Several popular diet plans set guidelines on the types of food for cholesterol control that you can or cannot consume. The Mediterranean diet is one such successful diet. Apart from its obvious benefit in reducing bad cholesterol levels, it is an excellent source of vitamins and proteins.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet gets its name from the region where it is commonly followed, namely the nations near the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean diet chiefly comprises food for cholesterol reduction. The focus of this diet is on lean meats, red wine, whole grain, good fats, and fresh produce.
Studies have shown that the people from Greece and Southern Italy, who mainly followed the Mediterranean diet, have lesser rates of heart disease. They were also found to have lower cholesterol levels.
Features of the Mediterranean Diet
A Mediterranean diet typically has the following features:
- The Mediterranean diet mostly comprises nuts, seeds, and olive oil as they are rich in monounsaturated fats
- Legumes like beans are used more often in this diet
- Red wine is consumed almost daily, but in moderation
- Fish that have a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, are part of this diet
- Grains that are rich in fiber, like oatmeal and other whole grains, are consumed
- People from the Mediterranean do not consume a lot of red meat
- They also consume less sugar in this diet
- There is moderate use of dairy products, with mainly healthy items such as parmesan cheese and yogurt used in their cooking
- The Mediterranean diet makes liberal use of fresh vegetables and fruits in the dishes prepared
It is chiefly due to the features mentioned above that a Mediterranean diet is popular with those suffering from high cholesterol.
Chief Foods for Cholesterol Reduction
The Mediterranean diet includes the following foods that are great for lowering cholesterol.
- Whole Grains
Brown rice, oats, barley, rye, corn, whole wheat, and bread made from whole wheat is an integral part of the Mediterranean diet.
- Fresh and Dry Fruits
Dates, grapes, melons, figs, strawberries, pears, apples, and banana are some of the fruits that form a part of this diet. All of them are highly rich in nutrients.
- Vegetables and Legumes
The Mediterranean diet makes use of vegetables like kale, spinach, cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, onions, and spinach to make their dishes. Tubers like sweet potato, yam, and potatoes are also a chief part of this diet. Peas, beans, pulses, lentils, chickpeas, etc. are some legumes used regularly in cooking.
Seafood like salmon, sardines, tuna, oysters, clam, crab, shrimp, and mackerel are a large part of Mediterranean cuisine and can be included in a diet as food for cholesterol patients.
- Healthy Dairy Products
Feta cheese, parmesan cheese, Greek yogurt are liberally used in this diet and is food for cholesterol reduction.
- Lots of Nuts
Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashew, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are the main part of various dishes in the Mediterranean cuisine.
- Healthy meat and eggs
Poultry like chicken, turkey, and duck are consumed extensively in this diet. You can also include the eggs of duck and chicken as food for cholesterol control.
Extra virgin olive oil is the preferred choice, along with avocado oil.
Food in Mediterranean cuisine contains plenty of herbs and spices, including garlic, basil, oregano, nutmeg, thyme, cinnamon, and pepper.
What to Drink?
Red wine is popular in Mediterranean countries. Most people drink one or two glasses per day, which is good for the heart. Due to the hot climate, people in these areas also drink plenty of water.
A Typical Mediterranean Menu
For breakfast, you can eat an omelet with vegetables, or Greek yogurt with fruits and nuts.
- Morning snack
Fruits like plums, oranges, or cucumber seasoned with herbs.
A whole-grain sandwich with cheese and fresh vegetables, or chicken and white bean soup is a good lunch option. Another choice is pizza made of whole wheat bread topped with vegetables and cheese.
- Evening snack
Carrot and hummus, or raspberries.
Cod in tomato cream sauce with quinoa, or salmon with green bean pilaf, is a good dinner option. You can also choose a grilled lamb with a salad.
How Helpful is this Diet?
Numerous studies were carried out in Mediterranean countries to find out if this diet can help lower cholesterol levels in the body. The results reveal some interesting facts:
- LDL or bad cholesterol levels reduced by ten percent
- Levels of good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) increased by five percent
- LDL oxidation that leads to the formation of plaque was seen to be reduced
- Levels of triglycerides were also found to be reduced
Studies have shown that Mediterranean diet is more effective in managing cholesterol than a low-fat diet. Consuming the right food for cholesterol management can help you lead a healthier life.