3 Heart Health Benefits Of A Traditional Mediterranean Diet

Posted on: 21 December 2017

It's easy to think of pizza, pasta, and lamb chops when you think of Mediterranean food, but these are only small parts of a traditional Mediterranean menu. A traditional Mediterranean diet is composed mostly of legumes, seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, seafood, and lots of olive oil. A diet that uses these components as its building blocks can have great benefits for your heart health. Take a look at a few of the heart-health benefits of adopting a traditional Mediterranean diet.

Lose Weight Without the Hunger

Obesity can raise your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, both of which can contribute to heart problems. Losing weight is often presented as an easy thing to do – just eat less and exercise more – but it's really not that easy, as anyone who's ever been on a diet knows. Feelings of hunger can be overwhelming and very challenging to ignore.

Eating the Mediterranean way can help you lose weight without the feeling of being hungry. The food includes healthy fats and nutrient-rich foods that help you fill up sooner and feel full longer. This allows you to take in fewer calories without feeling deprived.

Increase Your Omega-3 Intake

A Mediterranean diet contains a lot of omega-3 foods. Olive oil is a great example.  Foods are simmered in olive oil instead of butter, and olive oil is drizzled over breads, vegetables, and pastas, rather than using heavy sauces and spreads. But olive oil isn't the only omega-3 food. Mediterranean diets also include plenty of seafood, like sardines and salmon, as well as nuts and seeds which are also high in Omega-3s.

This is good for your heart because omega-3 foods contain fatty acids that are good for your heart. For example, olive oil and fish contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which has been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death. In one study of over 76,000 women, the women who consumed the most ALA had a 46% lower risk of sudden cardiac death and a 21% lower risk of death from coronary heart disease than the women who consumed the least amount of ALA.

Olive Oil Can Lower Your Blood Pressure

Not only can olive oil help prevent heart disease, it can also reduce your blood pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is also a major contributor to heart attacks and strokes.

Olive oil helps make nitric acid more bioavailable, which means that it's easier for your body to use. Your body uses nitric acid to keep your arteries clear, which means that blood can move through them more freely. This helps to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.

Visiting restaurants that serve traditional Mediterranean food can help you get a feel for the Mediterranean diet and find out what foods you enjoy the most. Eating a healthy, leisurely meal at a Mediterranean restaurant can also help you relax and de-stress, which can also benefit your heart health. Visit a restaurant, like Maura's Mediterranean Cuisine, to sample the cuisine.