After a great deal of research, I’ve concluded that the best overall heart healthy diet plan for healthy blood pressure, healthy cholesterol, healthy triglycerides and to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke is a combination of Mediterranean and Asian eating.
In essence, this heart healthy diet plan combines the healthy eating of Mediterranean cultures with the Asian emphasis on soy foods and seaweed. They have in common an absence of saturated and hydrogenated fats and an emphasis on fish and vegetables. There’s a remarkable amount of research to back up this delicious, heart healthy diet plan. And best of all, it’s not really a “diet” so much as a lifestyle choice.
My Pan-Asian, Modified-Mediterranean (PAMM) Heart Healthy Diet Plan
I have been a proponent of the modified Mediterranean diet for years—even before it became fairly mainstream. In recent years, I’ve expanded that foundation to include the Japanese diet, because I believe that combined, they deliver the best of both worlds. They share an absence of saturated and hydrogenated fats and emphasize fish and vegetables. However, while Mediterranean people do not consume a lot of soy or seaweed, the Asians do.
I decided to call this updated heart healthy diet plan the PAMM diet. It includes fresh fruits and vegetables in season, fish and whole grains. Meat is used sparingly, often just enough for flavoring. Meals are based on numerous small portions for lots of variety, and the lightest meal is at the end of the day, when the body is quieter and the metabolism slower.
My PAMM heart healthy diet plan includes 45 percent to 50 percent slow-burning, low-glycemic index carbohydrates; 30 percent healthy fats; and 25 percent protein. I’d also urge you to eat organic as much as possible.
Moderate Carbohydrates, More Protein and Healthy Fats
In a nutshell, the Mediterranean diet encourages eating cold-water fish such as salmon and halibut; “healthy fats” such as olive oil; low-glycemic carbohydrates such as beans, lentils and oatmeal; and plenty of fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Instead of eating large chunks of meat, Mediterranean people use meat to flavor their sauces. At most meals, they eat fiber-rich fruits and vegetables teeming with phytonutrients and packed with vitamins, carotenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols and monounsaturated fats crucial to well-being and cardiac health. Their heart healthy diet plans are naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids, coenzyme Q10, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
The Mediterranean heart healthy diet plan can help balance blood sugar and insulin levels and give you more energy. My patients report that they consistently feel better and experience a better quality of life.
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