The Mediterranean diet is designed for better heart health, offering the body all the nutrients it needs to maintain ideal health. It contains an attractive array of beneficial fats, lean protein, whole grains, vegetables and legumes. It also emphasizes on refraining from sweets, red meat, processed or packaged foods.
Here’s a rundown on the diet and how it relates to an Indian environment with 5 key steps for an accessible diet plan that you can follow throughout the year:
Start off with Fruits and Vegetables
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, there is a range of choice in both colour and flavour. They range from apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, capsicum and bell peppers, beetroot, carrots and cabbage. These provide your much-needed daily intake of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants that protect the heart.
Next come the Whole Grains
Whole grain wheat, barley and oats are inexpensive food grains that are rich in fiber. Studies indicate that people who consume at least three daily portions of whole grain foods, have a 20-30% reduced risk of developing heart disease, in comparison to those that don’t.
Add more beans
Often ignored, legumes are highly nutritious foods that are adaptable and delicious. Legumes like beans, lentils and chickpeas are also high in dietary fiber and help in maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol and blood sugar. Make some delicious dal with roti, some warm soup, or make some tasty rajma today.
Omega-3 Fats are great
Fish and seafood are key to this diet. The Omega-3 Fatty Acids in these foods help in lowering blood pressure levels and high triglycerides, further lowering the risk of heart disease. For adding even more Omega-3 Fats to your diet, you can also choose oils with high Alpha Linolenic Acid content, a vital fatty acid that our body requires. Canola and Flax oils are two variants of such oils.
Most of the meals in this diet are plant-based with a little seafood added a few times each week. For non-vegetarians, dairy products, poultry and eggs have their own position in the diet plan. While red meat may be included, it is recommended that it be done sparingly, limited to a few times a month.