How can a Mediterranean-style diet protect you from heart disease?

In short, a Mediterranean diet can help promote healthy cholesterol levels in your body, which can reduce your chance of heart disease by a lot. In fact, research claims that a Mediterranean diet can help reduce your risk of heart attacks, stroke, or cardiovascular-related death by up to 30%. So goes one more reason to eat for health, but what is the Mediterranean diet really?

To be frank, there’s no one “Mediterranean” diet. There are more than 15 countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, and different cuisines exist within each of these regions. So before we get caught with our pants down about the term, you should know about the regional fusing together that is happening when we discuss this way of eating. However, among all of these different diets, the patterns that emerge are the ones that make up what we call the Mediterranean diet.

  • Fruits, vegetables, grains, potatoes, beans, nuts, and seeds are something you eat a lot of
  • Olive oil is the primary source of fat, but the diet includes foods that are rich in healthy fats
  • Red meat and dairy are eaten sparsely
  • Fish, poultry, and eggs are consumed a few times a week
  • Dinner is often served with a glass of red wine
  • Herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary, lemon, garlic, and mint are used aplenty

What makes the Mediterranean diet so healthy?

We all know that there are different strokes for different folks, but I have a hard time imagining that many would look at this diet and think “what a bummer”. You’re basically encouraged to follow a high-fibre diet that is rich in fresh produce, healthy fats, legumes, seeds, and lean protein. Unsurprisingly, the diet excludes processed foods, foods containing saturated fats and added sugar.

I know what you’re thinking, many of the health diets that come and go often echo the same simple teachings that we’ve heard before. I like Michael Pollan’s food advice, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” The World Heart Federation believes that the statistics of heart disease have been raising as a result of the rising consumption of processed foods we’re eating–ie, diets that are high in saturated fat, and processed foods. When we look at the “Mediterranean diet”, we see a diet that is reminiscent of the way people used to eat before processed foods had hit the market in such a huge way.

How is it different from different diets?

What’s great about this way of eating is how it’s not heavily restrictive. It’s just cutting out the stuff you shouldn’t have been eating anyways (think back to basics–we didn’t have diet soda 100 years ago), and allowing more room for healthy ingredients to shine. Foods like cheese, fish, and eggs are all still enjoyed, but in a way that allows them to complement lighter ingredients instead of stealing the entire show. It embraces the healthy fats that fad diets have historically abolished, and moves away from red meat as your main source of protein, allowing plant-based protein to take the stage. In general, if you’re looking for a way to move away from processed foods that doesn’t feel like 0-100, then this would be a great heart-healthy diet model to aim for!

Okay, okay, I’m convinced! Gimme some recipes already.

Try this Mediterranean Lovers Breakfast Scramble for your next Sunday brunch!

Serve up Spinach Stuffed Portobello Caps as the appy at your dinner party!

Nothing beats these Falafels for lunch. Stuff them into a pita with some veggies, or mashed into a sald.

Easy Seafood Paella will be the dinner star of the entire week.

Looking for a lunch idea that will keep in the fridge during the week. Whip up this Quinoa Tabbouleh!


Have you tried adopting the Mediterranean diet into your day to day? Let us know what you think in the comments!

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