Summer Eating with the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is consistently rated as one of the healthiest diets you can eat and is endorsed by cardiologists at the American Heart Association. It incorporates aspects of healthy eating that are good for your heart and can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
But the Mediterranean diet is also just good eating. It’s an especially fitting choice for the summer when so many recipes go well with the things we like about the summer, such as grilling, getting together with friends, and using fresh ingredients from the garden or farmers’ markets.
Mediterranean Diet Principles
Before we go too much into specific recipes and plans, our heart doctors want to reiterate some of the basic principles of the Mediterranean diet. It’s essential to keep these in mind because many foods and recipes claim to be “Mediterranean” but don’t fulfill the principles of the Mediterranean diet.
When you are eating the Mediterranean, make sure you:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Switch to whole grains (including whole-grain pasta)
- Reduce red meat
- Eat more seafood
- Enjoy (low-fat) dairy
- Rely on spices instead of salt
One of the most important things about the Mediterranean diet is that it substitutes other protein sources for the red or processed meat so common in the standard American diet. You also want to make sure you’re eating many vegetables, at least seven servings a day, and rely on fruits for dessert. Bread and pasta are typical in Mediterranean cultures, but they are more often whole grain foods. Seafood is a bit of a challenge here in Colorado, but trout fits well in many Mediterranean dishes if you’re a fisherman. And, of course, our love of spicy foods can help you make tasty dinners that remain low in salts.
Here are some great opportunities for enjoying summer eating the Mediterranean diet.
Grilling for Yourself and Company
Everybody loves to grill in the summer, and it doesn’t have to be bad for your heart. Sure, traditional American grilled foods feature steaks (red meat) or brats (processed meat), layered with high-fat, high-sugar barbecue sauce.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. For example, you can grill some skewers of flavorful chicken souvlaki. Or, if you’re looking for a vegetarian option, consider something like Caprese stuffed portobello mushrooms. Fat comes from olive oil and cheese, but it’s a tasty and low-calorie main dish.
Bring to the Potluck
But what do you do when you’re not hosting the barbecue, and you have to design a dish that’s easy to transport and share? Not a problem: choose something like an orzo salad instead of the traditional macaroni salad or potato salad. It’s got a fresh and delicious flavor, and it uses an olive oil-based vinaigrette instead of a heavy mayonnaise-based sauce.
Get assigned to bring chips? Don’t just get another bag of greasy potato chips and ranch dip. Instead, you can make a mezze platter. There are pita chips for dipping and crackers for topping, but you ditch the ranch for hummus and feta. Plus, you supply extra vegetables for snacking.
Use Fresh Ingredients
Hopefully, you’ve taken the time to plant and raise some heart-healthy foods in your garden this year and are looking forward to the harvest. It’s easy to incorporate some common Colorado crops into your Mediterranean diet. There’s nothing like summer tomatoes, and you can quickly build a tomato salad around them, maybe even using some fresh herbs like dill.
You might not even have to plant to take advantage of the summer bounty. Zucchini grows like a weed here, so the odds are good that someone you know will be trying to get rid of it. Then you can make a grilled summer vegetable dish.
South Denver Cardiology Can Help You Live Healthily
Enjoying the Mediterranean diet in the summer is one of the ways to make promoting heart health easy and delightful! The truth is that many of the simple lifestyle choices that will make you healthier will also make you happier.
At South Denver Cardiology Associates, a cardiologist can help you find ways to incorporate heart-healthy choices into your daily life. We offer diagnostic services that can help you monitor your heart health to know when more aggressive treatment might be necessary.
To learn how we can help you with nutrition consulting or cardiology services, please make an appointment at South Denver Cardiology Associates today. We serve patients throughout the Denver metro area.
As with any health concerns, your specific treatment program should be discussed thoroughly with your primary care physician as well as any specialists who may need to be consulted – like a cardiologist.Sign Up