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Now there are even more reasons to give the Mediterranean diet a try. A new Greek study suggests that the Mediterranean diet helps improve several risk factors linked to diabetes, obesity and heart disease. The new study, which was published Monday by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that the Mediterranean diet can provide beneficial effects against five components of a prediabetic condition called the metabolic syndrome — in fact, the diet is so effective that it was associated with a 31 percent reduction in the risk of developing the syndrome.

If you aren't following a Mediterranean diet currently, Amy Hendel, health coach and author of 4 Habits of Healthy Families, suggests the following to get started:

•Fill up on nuts which have heart-healthy fatty acids. A small handful is a great snack size or sprinkle them on a salad
•Go greek and include a low-fat or fat-free creamy thick yogurt in your daily menu. Throw some berries on top for a more substantial pick-me-up snack
•Go fishing and choose low-mercury oily fish like salmon and sardines. Replacing a meat meal with fish will dramatically reduce heart-clogging saturated fat in your diet.

You can also try these healthy Mediterranean diet recipes from Shape.com.

Hearty Mediterranean Diet Salad with Balsamic Chicken
Try this delicious Mediterranean salad to give your heart health a little boost
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes total time
Cook Time: 20 minutes total time
Get the recipe

Pan-Sauteed Salmon Over Mediterranean Vegetables
Protect your heart with this main dish, rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Get the recipe

Mediterranean Herb Shrimp with Penne
This one-dish pasta meal is seasoned to perfection
Serves: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Get the recipe
 

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