Numerous individuals often incorporate a strict diet meal plan as part of their health and fitness routine, to achieve specific results. This makes it nearly impossible to discuss dieting without considering outcomes such as weight loss.
However, the Mediterranean diet is not so different from these diets. Unlike other diets, the Mediterranean diet plan promotes a balanced variety of meals with extensive health benefits.
Global interest in the Mediterranean diet has become of noticeable increase because of its benefits to the cardiovascular system. While a few individuals take their time to prepare this meal, others depend on companies that render Mediterranean diet meal delivery services to keep up with their proposed diet plan as initiated by either their dietician or themselves.
For a better understanding of what the Mediterranean diet is about, this article will serve as a comprehensive guide to walk you through the components and cardiovascular benefits of this unique diet.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that is inspired by the traditional dishes of countries like Greece, Portugal, Italy, Morocco, and other countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.
Being a combination of rich fruits, heart-healthy fats, legumes, whole grains, olive oil, poultry, and moderate amounts of fish and wine, this unique diet meal plan has been proven to reduce the possibility and occurrence of cardiovascular diseases.
This meal was brought into the limelight in the 1950s, after studies proved that there were little or no cases of cardiovascular diseases in Mediterranean countries, compared to its occurrence in the United States.
This led to the conclusion that Mediterranean foods can help prevent stroke and cardiovascular diseases.
5 Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet to the Cardiovascular System
Incorporating this meal plan into your dietary routine is a crucial step toward safeguarding your cardiovascular system from potential diseases.
It contains essential nutrients which are beneficial to your heart and health as a whole. Some of these benefits are:
Improved Blood Pressure
Medical studies and research have proven that the Mediterranean diet consists of healthy components which assist in controlling and improving blood pressure.
One key component of the Mediterranean diet is fatty fish which helps in regulating blood pressure. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish have anti-inflammatory properties and also help in widening blood vessels for the free flow of blood. Thereby reducing the presence of oxylipins in the blood which narrows the blood vessels.
In case you are wondering which fish species to add while preparing your Mediterranean lunch or dinner, go for Salmon, Mackerel, Sardine Tuna, and Herring as these fishes are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Reduction in Cholesterol Level
The Mediterranean diet consists of fruits and legumes which are rich in fiber which can help in reducing the cholesterol level.
A major antioxidant that is highly effective in the reduction of cholesterol is Lycopene. This antioxidant is present in tomatoes and also imparts its reddish appearance and that of other fruits. Lycopene increases good cholesterol (High-density lipids HDL) and reduces low-density lipids, which are capable of causing blood clots along the walls of the blood vessels.
This antioxidant also reduces the risk of stroke which may arise as a result of hypertension.
It is almost common knowledge that obesity puts you at risk of heart disease.
However, with the presence of rich fibers and protein in the Mediterranean diet, the feeling of satisfaction from the consumption of a little meal is enhanced and there is a reduction in the intake of calories. For individuals with obesity, the healthy fats from olive oil which is present in this diet have little or no chance to cause heart problems.
Furthermore, the Mediterranean diet is a lot easier to stick with as it is non-restrictive like other diet plans. Rather, it consists of plenty of variety while regulating your weight and keeping you from excessive weight gain.
Reduces the Risk of Stroke in Women
It has been revealed that women who maintain adherence to the Mediterranean diet are at a lower risk of experiencing stroke, compared to those who do not. This diet plays an active role in enhancing fertility.
Further studies on a total of 26,000 women showed that women who consumed the Mediterranean diet were at a lower risk of experiencing cardiovascular diseases.
However, consistency in this diet is also capable of reducing mortality rates, the risk of dementia and other diseases associated with aging and the heart.
Promotes Healthy Sugar
The Mediterranean diet contains essential whole grains which can help in regulating blood sugar and protect you from type 2 diabetes. This diet reduces the level of fasting blood sugar and improves hemoglobin A1C levels.
Furthermore, Mediterranean foods block insulin resistance which prevents the body from utilizing insulin in the effective regulation of blood sugar.
While it is difficult to differentiate which food belongs to the Mediterranean diet and which food does not, because of the variation between countries. The Mediterranean diet still shares peculiar characteristics.
Therefore, it is important to know that irrespective of the country, for a healthy Mediterranean diet meal preparation, the diet is majorly plant-based, contains minimal amounts of animal products including meat, and consists of fish and seafood.
Meals to Avoid to Prevent Cardiovascular Risk
To enhance the functionality of your cardiovascular system, it is also important to avoid the following:
Snacks such as soda, ice cream, syrup, table sugar, candies, and a few more contain a high amount of added sugar which can result in diabetes.
Processed Food and Trans Fat
Highly processed meals such as Fast food, granular bars, convenience meals and Trans fat which is present in margarine and fried food can be detrimental to your health.
So, If you have a busy schedule and can’t seem to make time to prepare your diet, you can always get the service of a diet planner who will take your orders, adhere to them and get healthy meals delivered to your doorstep.
Red and Processed Meat
As tasty as they are, hot dogs, sausages, deli meats, and other processed meat contain a high amount of saturated fats, low-density lipids, and cholesterol which can result in cardiovascular diseases.
These grains lack fiber and the necessary plant compounds which are contained in whole grains. As a result of a lack of fiber, they lead to excessive consumption of food which can result in obesity, inflammation, and other cardiovascular diseases.
Observational studies and research revealed that about 27% of deaths from cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke have been linked to the daily and excessive consumption of refined grains.
In addition, a higher intake of refined grains has also been identified to be a causative agent of higher systolic blood pressure.
Incorporate the Mediterranean Diet Plan
The nutritious health benefits of the Mediterranean diet make it a fit meal for every individual.
As a heart-friendly meal, this diet can also prevent the occurrence of not only cardiovascular events but also certain cases like diabetes and obesity. Be it a Mediterranean diet lunch, dinner, or breakfast, take your time out to tweak this diet plan into your feeding schedule.