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Mediterranean Diet for Heart Health

How to keep your heart healthy…

It’s easy to take your heart for granted. It’s beating 24/7 and rarely makes a peep… until one day you notice a skipped beat, fast beats or even pain in your chest.

It is much easier to prevent heart problems than to reverse them, and the earlier you get started the better. This is why you should take a look at the Mediterranean diet because it is really a great preventative lifestyle that is good news for your heart. Here’s a list of items you can eat daily for two full weeks, and then repeat the whole cycle to complete the month. Viewing it like that makes it easier to make a change for many people. Fortunately, the food tastes great, because it’s this famous Mediterranean diet that has been shown to be the best diet for heart health.

The diet is based on eating habits of those who live close to the Mediterranean Sea. There are no specific calorie levels. The primary goal is to eat fresh and seasonal foods grown locally. It contains many fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, olive oil, fish and poultry. Dairy products are limited. Some wine is encouraged during meals. Red meat and processed meat, as well as foods containing sugar, are discouraged. So why not give it a try?

Here are the 14 steps to take in transitioning to a Mediterranean diet:

1. Use extra-virgin olive oil.

2. Discard all – soy, corn, safflower, and vegetable oils.

3. Throw out all canola oil or any food that contains any trace of canola oil.

It is also called rapeseed oil. This oil has been found to damage the heart, which has caused it to be banned in Europe. Ignore marketing schemes that try to convince you canola oil has been new and improved.

4. Select three different types of fish to purchase each week when you are at the store. 

Your choices could include perch, trout, salmon, sardines or halibut.

5. Roast or boil a whole chicken for the week.

You’ll have enough leftovers to save yourself at least 2 hours of meal preparation time for other meals.

6. When you eat fruit, eat only one serving at a time. 

You shouldn’t eat as much fruit that you are filled up on it. For example, a serving of raisins is only two tablespoons, not 1/2 cup. Two fresh figs equal one serving. One-half cup of orange juice or apple juice is equal to one serving. One cup of watermelon is a single serving. Take the time to learn serving sizes during the first week and you’ll never have to learn them again.

7. Use fresh herbs such as rosemary, basil, oregano, and parsley.

They are tasty and will help to turn you into a master chef. They are also great for your heart. They contain polyphenols and other medicinal components that support your heart functions. 

8. Teach yourself how to make sugar-free dark chocolate desserts. 

This is easier than you may think. A chocolate sauce is only composed of powdered dark chocolate, water, olive oil, vanilla, stevia and sunflower lecithin. Alter the recipe, by adding different flavors such as fresh ginger, lemon, almond extract, coffee extract, essential oils, or even fruit extracts.

9. During the second week, teach yourself how to make sugar-free dark chocolate desserts with fruit and nuts 

Use your regular recipe, then stir in nuts and/or fruit. You can then scoop it out in tablespoons or bite-size pieces onto a small cookie pan. Freeze until serving time.

Some of the nut options include macadamia nuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, pistachios or hazelnuts. The fruit options are any type of berries or other fruit, as long as it’s chopped into small enough pieces to allow the chocolate to hold itself together when held in your hand.

10. Eat your meals with other people.

This is because good company cultivates laughter, and these are both excellent medicines for the heart.

11. When you select a wine, make sure you get one of the purest wines you can find. 

Pure means non-GMO grapes, non-GMO yeast used in the fermentation process, no chemicals, no preservatives and only naturally-occurring sulfites.

Do some online due diligence to find wine clubs that test all the wines that they sell. If a wine doesn’t meet high standards, you shouldn’t purchase it. Drinking healthy wine is much different than most commercial wines, which are considered “polluted” by nutritionists in the know. The best way to do this is to search online for “chemical free non-GMO wine”.

12. Drink plenty of water during the day.

Starting out your day with a quart of water, is one of the best ways to rehydrate your body after a long night of sleep. Your goal is half your body weight in pounds, which translates into the same number, in ounces, of water needed per day.

For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, ½ of 160 = 80 pounds. 80 pounds is equal to 80 ounces of water needed per day. This is 10 cups a day.

13. Try a new type of herbal tea a few times a week, until you have four or five favorites.

14. Use lemon and lime freely, for adding flavor to your foods.

Play around with essential oil lemon and lime too. A few drops works just the same.

There you have it! Enough heart healthy tips to get you started on a heart healthy Mediterranean lifestyle (even if you live in Cleveland) that has proven to be one of the best ways to eat and live!

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