How the Mediterranean Diet Can Minimize Your Heart Disease Risk

Many key aspects of the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle can really help you reduce your risk for developing, as well as the progression of, heart disease:

1

The focus on unsaturated heart healthy fats that help lower your LDL cholesterol and raise your HDL cholesterol, as well as reduce the risk for oxidation of cholesterol.

This oxidation is what leads to artery plaque build-up and, eventually, heart attack or stroke. In the Mediterranean diet, you swap out butter and limit red meat and full-fat dairy products in favor of olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, and fish — items that give you a dose of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like omega-3s.

Omega-3 fatty acids from fish in particular help decrease your triglycerides, which is another type of fat in your blood that increases your risk for heart disease. In addition, omega-3 fats can reduce inflammation in your body that may cause damage to your arteries.

2

Reliance on primarily plant-based foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

These foods contain a plethora of antioxidants and fiber, which helps lower cholesterol and helps you maintain a healthy weight — all heart disease protectants. Some of the Mediterranean diet super foods in this category include

Grains, like barley and quinoa

Fruits, like figs and pomegranate

Veggies, like eggplant and artichoke

Nuts, like pine nuts, walnuts, and pistachios

Beans, like garbanzo and cannellini

3

Enjoy red wine in moderation.

Having a glass of wine has been shown to have a positive link to heart health due to the antioxidants, like resveratrol, which protect the blood vessel lining in your heart.

You don’t necessarily need to start drinking red wine if you don’t already drink alcohol — no causal connection between red wine and heart disease exists — but the point is that it doesn’t hurt!

As long as you’re able to keep your intake to the moderate level (one 5-ounce glass per day for women and two for men) and have no other reason to avoid wine, you’re good to go when it comes to your heart health.

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