Updated October 05, 2019, 3:47 pm
In the Mediterranean countries, many people stay healthy until old age – thanks to diet. However, asceticism is not important in this strengthening diet. What is behind it and how easily you can change your diet.
Traditional Mediterranean cuisine is characterized by Mediterranean vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, zucchini or eggplants, fish and olive oil, as well as legumes and fruits. Dishes are supplemented with whole grains and dairy products. Fresh herbs are used instead of unhealthy salt.
Mediterranean food keeps the heart healthy
The fact that all these ingredients protect against heart disease is often proven: "The positive effects of Mediterranean cuisine for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, stroke and heart failure have been scientifically proven," emphasizes Prof. Dr. Honey. honey. Helmut Gohlke, Board Member of the German Heart Foundation.
"Those who consistently eat the recipes of the Mediterranean (…) contribute to better vascular function and thus may reduce its risk of heart attack, stroke, and other chronic conditions such as cancer and diabetes."
Vitamins and phytochemicals found in fresh fruits and vegetables are considered to be protective factors for the heart and general health. In addition, it prevents diabetes.
The fibers, found in seeds, nuts and whole grain products, prevent vascular narrowing (arteriosclerosis). It can interfere with the circulation of the heart and lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Olive oil and avocado contain unsaturated fatty acids
In the diet, the right choice of oils and fats plays a crucial role. According to Deutscher Herzstiftung, unsaturated fats are an advantage. Studies have shown that taking their intake also reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.
Olive and rapeseed are especially healthy. When buying, it is important to ensure that these are cold pressed oils. Olive oil should also be "extra virgin olive oil". The healthiest monounsaturated fatty acid is oleic acid. It is found in olive oil, rapeseed, wheat germ and peanuts, but also in avocado and almonds.
Unsaturated also contains omega-3 fatty acids in fish. Their consumption has a beneficial effect on life expectancy and protects the heart, according to the German Heart Foundation.
Omega-3 fatty acids keep arteries supple
Positive effect: Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the stickiness of platelets and thus have a positive effect on the function of the inner layer of the arteries and keep them elastic. They also stabilize the heart rhythm and can even prevent sudden cardiac death, as the Heart Foundation informs.
In particular, many omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, herring, salmon and trout. Therefore, nutrition experts recommend two fish meals a week. However, care must be taken to ensure proper preparation.
Steaming is especially gentle, but baking and grilling are also possible in the oven. However, when baking, rapeseed or olive oil should not start smoking. It's too hot then. By the way, fish oil capsules from the pharmacy, by the way, have no positive effect on preventing myocardial infarction and stroke.
Stay away from sausages and fast food
Unlike unsaturated, saturated fats harm the body. They are found in coconut and palm oil, which are often used to quickly fry fast foods and pastries. They are also found in large quantities in meat and sausage, so they should be eaten as little as possible.
Those who like to eat meat should better resort to poultry. However, as a source of protein, Mediterranean cuisine is much more concerned with legumes like beans, lentils and peas than fish.
In people who have consumed a lot of saturated fat, studies have increased the risk of heart attack and stroke. Background: Increase the harmful LDL cholesterol in the body.
Watch out for trans fatty acids
In addition, blood clotting activity increases. As a result, the veins threaten to become clogged and heart disease is favored. However, there is one exception: experts rate saturated fatty acids from dairy products such as butter and yogurt favorably.
Trans fatty acids also damage the heart by increasing LDL cholesterol and reducing good, protective HDL cholesterol. They are found in finished products, deep-fried, frozen foods and many margarines.
In a cookbook published by "Mediterranean Cuisine – Indulgence and an Opportunity for Your Heart" (280 pages, 23 euros), the German Heart Foundation offers a large collection of recipes from the Mediterranean with Chef Gerald Wüchner.
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- German Heart Foundation (ed.): Living Longer Through Mediterranean Cuisine. A dream or a reality? Prof. Dr. med. Helmut Gohlke, project team for prevention of the German Cardiology Society
- Deutsche Herzstiftung press release: Engage in spring with hearty Mediterranean cuisine (03/04/2019)