February is not just for Valentine’s Day. It is also Heart Month here in Canada. With 2.6 million Canadians having a common type of heart disease, the question remains is there a role for diet in preventing heart disease. The Mediterranean Diet is arguably the diet that gets us closest to that answer. As a naturopathic doctor, a foundational conversation I have with most of my patients is one of what do we eat.
The Mediterranean Diet is almost certainly the most researched way of eating in the world. It is based on patterns of eating habits observed in peoples living along the Mediterranean Sea, especially the European side. Most of the research has focused on how healthy it is for heart and blood sugar health.
The Mediterranean diet is not a diet in the weight loss sense. Rather, it is a way of eating focused on whole foods that are rich in nutrients. Whole foods are those that are fresh or cooked but unprocessed. Plant foods are the stars, rich in phytonutrients, foods like colourful fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts/seeds, and whole grains. While typically lower in red meat, poultry and fish are both good sources of protein and some fish have heart-healthy omega 3’s.
Multiple studies show the Mediterranean Diet has benefits for heart health, blood sugar regulation, mood and mental health, autoimmune conditions, prostate concerns, and more…
Here are some tips and tricks to incorporate this way of eating into your everyday life
Everyday Meals should contain:
- Protein source – Seafood, Poultry, Legumes (beans, lentils), Eggs, Cheese, Yogurt
- Healthy Fats – Olive oil, Nuts, Seeds, Olives
- Vegetables – All the colourful vegetables you like (salads, greens, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, broccoli…). For example, each meal you can aim to have a salad.
- Whole Grains – Brown/Wild rice, Quinoa, Couscous, Barley, Farro, whole grain pasta
- Herbs & Spices
Imagine your plate to be 50% Vegetables, 25% Protein, 25% Whole Grain, 1-2 Tbsp Healthy Fat
- Aim to have 3 servings of fish & 3 servings of lentils or beans weekly
- Keep red meat to 2 servings a week
Try to Reduce:
- Replace sugary sodas and juice with water
- Replace sugary desserts with fresh fruit (save desserts for special occasions)
- Moderate alcohol consumption
Dr. Shawn Peters, ND is a naturopathic doctor practicing in downtown Courtenay.
Book in a Complimentary 15-minute, no obligation appointment with Dr. Shawn to see if Naturopathic Medicine is right for you!