In the last few days I have been exploring about different health plans and diets and I found one that sounds very interesting, the Mediterranean Diet, which in addition to a lot of different benefits, is heart healthy. Different researches have shown that this meal plan reduces the risk of a heart disease, cancer, Parkinson and even Alzheimer!! Incredible, isn’t it? Lets start exploring into detail because this diet seems to be amazing, not only because of the benefits mentioned above but because of the wide variety of foods involved.

Its name comes from the Mediterranean region since all of the recipes and ingredients are based on the typical foods of the land around the Mediterranean Sea, which incorporates all of the basic steps of healthy eating.

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Keys of the Mediterranean diet:

–       Eat mainly foods that are plant based (fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains)

–       Olive oil and other healthy fats are the best substitute for butter

–       Salt should be changed for herbs and spices to flavor foods

–       Red meat should be eaten no more than a few times per month

–       Chicken and fish should be eaten twice a week

–       Red wine is ACCEPTED in moderation

–       Maintain an active life

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Fruits and vegetables are an essential part for the diet, which should be eaten, like in Greece about six servings a day.

Grains are also very important, but for Americans it is important to adjust to the Mediterranean traditions because, like bread, grains are eaten in very different ways. We tend to enjoy our slice with butter, margarine or saturated fats, but instead we should try it with olive oil, which now for me, tastes way better. This oil is the primary source of fat because is monosaturated, which can help reduce low-density lopoprotein cholesterol levels when used as a replacement for trans fats. Also, it contains high levels of protective plant compound that acts as antioxidants.

Still talking about fats, nuts are a high calorie and fat food, but most of it is healthy if they are eaten in moderation (about a handful a day). Its important to start knowing nuts because honey-roasted or heavily salted should not be eaten. As well as these addictive dried fruits, canola oil contains beneficial linoleic acid and healthy unsaturated fat. These omega-3 fatty acids help lover triglycerides, decrease blood-clotting, decrease the incidence of heart attacks and improve the health of blood vessels and pressure.

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Its time to change our brains and flip our chips into a healthy way to eat, we don’t need to think it is a strict DIET where we suffer daily because of our unattractive meals. It’s an amazing eating style, which involves a wide variety of ingredients and helps our body in an incomparable way.

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These are some basics steps to get started and start enjoying all of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet:

–       Plant foods should be part of the meals but minimally processed, freshness is the best ingredient. Also, they can be eaten as a snack; baby carrots, apples and bananas are great, quick and satisfying.

–       Cereals should be whole-grain, as well as rice and pasta.

–       Nuts are very important sources of fiber, protein and healthy fats. So keep your walnuts, pistachios, peanuts and cashews ready for a quick snack.

–       GOOD NEWS for those who love peanut butter, go and buy a natural one and add it to whichever meal you want.

–       Try the butter transition to olive oil, for me; it’s not only healthier but tastes much better.

–       The fish you should it can be prepared how you like, but avoiding the breaded or fried fish.

–       Avoid sausage, bacon and other high-fat processed meats.

–       Limit higher fat diary products; try to change them for skim milk, fat free yogurt, low fat cheese and almond milk.

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So, how do you feel to be part of this healthy meal plan? Start with the best part and eat whole grain bread with peanut butter and strawberries, sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

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