Mediterranean Eating for a Healthy Heart

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Food and Nutrition
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

There was more news out last week that was no news to me. You probably heard about it, too—a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that the Mediterranean diet is the only diet associated with lower risk of heart disease.

Readers of my (now out-of-print) newsletter, Heart, Health & Nutrition, know that I've been recommending the Mediterranean way of eating for years. I believe it's the cornerstone of good cardiovascular nutrition, and an absolute must if you want a vitamin rich, cholesterol lowering diet that can help prevent heart attack and stroke.

Now, technically I prefer to combine the Mediterranean diet with a taste of Asia to create what I call the Pan Asian Mediterranean (PAM) diet. PAM emphasizes fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, lean protein, and healthy fats at every meal. For best results, here's how I recommend you put together your menu:

  • 40-45 percent low-density carbohydrates, mostly low-glycemic vegetables and fruits.
  • 20–25 percent lean protein, such as chicken, fish, tofu, or egg whites.
  • 35-40 percent saturated and monounsaturated fats, including but not limited to olive oil, nuts, and avocado.

It's very important to limit lean protein to 20–25 percent of a meal. This portion size can be gauged as a piece of lean chicken breast, fish, or meat (about 6 ounces and 200 calories). That's roughly the same size as the palm of your hand, or one-quarter of a full-sized dinner plate.

I know that some of you are skeptical of healthy heart nutrition plans, so let me tell you something else about the PAM diet. It's not just scientifically sound. I've tested it myself—along with a lot of other diet plans—and it's delicious! I challenge you to give it a try. To get you started, here are some of my favorite recipes. Let me know what you think!

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