Heart-friendly diet

Mediterranean diet: a heart-friendly way to eat

The Mediterranean diet is probably the most discussed and promoted way of eating to prevent cardiovascular disease and slow progression in people with cardiovascular disease.

Its cardioprotective properties are widely supported in studies which highlight the importance of a dietary pattern rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, fish and poultry.

Unhealthy dietary habits are one of the major contributors to illness and death from cardiovascular disease in Europe. The Mediterranean diet is one of the most studied eating styles for its heart healthy effects. It emphasises primarily eating plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts, using olive oil in place of other fats, and eating fish at least twice a week. Herbs and spices are used instead of salt to flavour meals, while red meat and added sugars are limited. Moderate alcohol consumption, mainly red wine, is recommended for its health properties. Taken together, this dietary pattern has a high content of mono- and poly- unsaturated fats, dietary fibre from plants, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory factors.

In recent years, low carbohydrate diets were promoted for weight loss, but the traditional Mediterranean diet includes moderate carbohydrate intake from healthy sources (fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains). People in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea get 50% to 55% of their calories from carbohydrates, and this is a good amount to aim for.