Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mediterranean Diet

So, I just had Lil' Bean a month ago and I've been on the hunt for a good died and workout regimen. Well, I have been doing my research and I think I have decided on the Mediterranean Diet. I was flipping through the channels on TV the other night and I came across some cooking show about the Mediterranean Diet and everything looked really good.

Well, today I decided to actually do some research about this diet. This diet would be perfect for me for so many reasons. Anyone who knows me, knows all about my heart issues. For those of you who don't, I have a history of pericardial effusion and mitral valve prolapse. The pericardial effusion has been treated twice. What pericardial effusion means, for those who don't know, is I have fluid around my heart. However, like I said; the fluid has been drained twice. I get echo cardiograms periodically to check on the status of it. The mitral valve prolapse at first meant me left valve didn't close properly. Now it doesn't close much at all.

With my heart problems; I get extreme shortness of breath, feeling weak, etc. On top of my heart issues, I am also highly anemic. Prior to have Lil' Bean, I had to have a blood transfusion. They wouldn't allow me to deliver him vaginally because of how much blood I would lose. Before the blood transfusion, my count was at 8. After the transfusion, my count was at 10. Most people have a count of 11.5.

So, why and how would the Mediterranean Diet benefit me with my health issues? Well, the Mediterranean Diet promotes healthy hearts. The Mediterranean Diet not only reduces the chances of heart disease, but also cancer, Parkinson's Disease, and Alzheimer's Disease. If you take a look at the food pyramid below for the Mediterranean Diet, you can get an idea of the food choices available to you if you choose to try out this diet.

The main ideas of the Mediterranean Diet are pretty simple to follow. The main foods to eat include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. You want to replace butter with healthy alternatives such as olive oil and canola oil. You also want to reduce your use of salt to flavor foods and instead use herbs and spices. You want to do your best to limit meals containing red meat to be only a couple of times a month, but try to eat meals with fish and poultry at least twice a week. 

When it comes to red wine, it okay for the Mediterranean Diet. However, if you are someone who doesn't drink; sparkling red grape juice is an alternative. The benefit is in the grapes. The grapes contain antioxidants such as transresveratrol and oligomeric proanthocyanidin that lower the chances of heart disease. They keep the blood circulation healthy and prevent blood clots from forming.

As far as dairy products go, you will want to switch to low-fat products such as skim milk, fat-free yogurt, and low-fat cheese. With the Mediterranean Diet, you are not limiting your fat intake. Instead, you are making healthy choices about the types of fat you eat. You want to try and stay away from saturated fats. With the Mediterranean Diet, olive oil is your primary source of fat, which is a monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats can reduce LDL cholesterol levels. So, that's another benefit of the Mediterranean Diet. When choosing your olive oil, virgin and extra virgin olive oils contain the highest levels of antioxidants. 

When choosing your fish; mackerel, trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon are all great choices. This is because they all are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides, decreases blood clots from forming, improve the health of your blood vessels, decrease the chances of sudden heart attacks, and help moderate blood pressure. 

When many people think about diets, they think the food will be gross. I don't think that will be the case with the Mediterranean Diet. Just take a look at some of these images below.


I have found enough convincing information on this died on the WebMD and MayoClinic websites to make me want to at least give it a try. I have also been finding some really good sounding recipes on the Eating Well website. So, here's to my new diet in the making. I think tomorrow I will go grocery shopping for the change of diet. I found some great recipes I want to try. I'm actually kind of excited.

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-Nikki Layne