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What is an Ideal Mediterranean Diet?

Mediterranean Diet is patterned after the traditional dietary patterns of several Mediterranean countries, where remarkable longevity with few chronic diseases is the norm. Numerous research studies have shown a Mediterranean diet lowers overall mortality, while preventing cardiovascular disease, many chronic diseases, and protecting against dementia.

A Mediterranean diet is rich in Vegetables, fruits,legumes and whole grains with less quantity of meat.Alcohol is limited to a few sips of high quality red wine per week.  Mixed nuts and certified pure Extra Virgin Olive Oil are pillars of a perfected Mediterranean Diet, and best predict heart and brain health.  When combined with regular moderate exercise,6-8 hours of high quality sleep per night, and avoidance of long periods (more than 1 hour) of sitting at any time, a Mediterranean diet has been shown to provide a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Allow me to share a few simple steps to prevent, limit, and even reverse heart disease by following a simple Mediterranean diet plan. These are principles I provide to my patients, who suffer from numerous cardiac conditions with all possible levels of severity. For those of you who do not yet have cardiac disease, I believe adhering to a Mediterranean diet is the single best preventive strategy to preserve and promote optimal heart health.  Entire families are following a Mediterranean-style diet, where children learn to appreciate a Mediterranean diet at an early age.  Such children are truly fortunate, learning to adopt lifestyle patterns for optimal performance and longevity. Not only does a Mediterraneandiet predict optimal heart health throughout life, the risk of developing and dying from cancer is minimized, with reduction in the risk of common and debilitating neurologic conditions including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

What is an IdealMediterranean Diet?

Mixed nuts and certified pure Extra Virgin Olive Oil are two pillars of an ideal Mediterranean diet, and it is imperative to include these for best results.  Beyond these, a Mediterranean diet can be achieved by adhering to several governing principles, and working to improve on these principles as food sources and preparation are learned. Please allow me to share key features of a Mediterranean diet..

– Olives and Olive oil

I suggest swallowing one to two tablespoons of certified pure Extra Virgin Olive Oil each morning with breakfast. Olive oil is easy to digest and completely absorbed into the system. Olive oil is a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids (which displaces saturated fat and protects against heart disease) and numerous antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect tissues throughout the body from harmful exposures to toxins such as pollution, preservatives, food additives, and radiation, as well as from destructive free radicals which are byproducts of the body’s own metabolic processes. Olive oil is also rich in Vitamins A, D, E and K, which also serve as antioxidants while facilitating numerous important metabolic processes throughout the body.

Olive oil is mainly composed of mixed triglyceride esters such as Oleic acid and Palmitic acid. The unsaturated fatty acids reduce the chances of heart attacks, obesity and cholesterol. Olive oil also prevents ulcerative colitis, depression, osteoporosis, and skin cancer. Olive oil should be used instead of butter, margarine and other fats.

When purchasing Olive Oil, it is important to choose a product that is certified for purity. Many commercial Olive Oils contain other types of oils, which do not have the same benefits, thereby diluting the overall quality.

— Fruits and Vegetables

A Mediterranean diet calls for 5 servings of fruits, vegetables, beans, or whole grains daily. I strongly suggest to buy organic fruits and veggies whenever possible for increased nutritional content and to reduce pesticide exposure. A good selection of vegetables should span the colors of the rainbow (green, yellow, orange, red, violet), with a focus on dark green leafy vegetables (kale, beet tops, spinach). Please remember to wash all purchased fruits and vegetables with soap and water! Assume that pesticides are sticking to the skin of any fruits and veggies you purchase, and these must be washed away before you eat. Spices such a ginger, garlic turmeric, and pepper should be added purposefully. Tomato sauces in conjunction with a fat releases the powerful antioxidant lycopene. Consider a tomato sauce and sliced tomatoesdrizzled with olive oil and crumbled feta cheese, or load your pizza with peppers and mushrooms instead of sausage and pepperoni. You can also try vegetable soups and salads to incorporate vegetables into your diet.

–Legumes, Seeds, and Nuts

These provide antioxidants and are excellent sources of fiber and protein. I recommend ½ cup cooked legumes at least twice a week. In addition, enjoy a small handful of mixed nuts and seeds 5 days per week, preferably with breakfast. Mixed nuts should include Almonds, Walnuts, and Brazil nuts. Plain nuts and seeds are available at bulk food stores such as WinCo Foods. I create a mixture of almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and watermelon seeds after buying each of these in bulk, and eat a small handful each morning with breakfast.

–Fish and Seafood

A Mediterranean diet allows for eggs and fish two or three times a week. The best fish are small, cold-water fatty fish, such as Pacific/Alaska salmon, herring, and sardines. These fish are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which they obtain by eating algae from the ocean floor. Small fish are better because there is less opportunity to concentrate ocean toxins, such as mercury. The Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are beneficial to heart health because of their anti-inflammatory and vasodilatory properties which keeps the blood flowing smoothly.Alternately, algae supplements rich in Omega-3s are available in health food stores. You can obtain Omega-3s the same was fish do! Shellfish like mussels, oysters, and clams have similar benefits for brain and heart health. I suggest to avoid farmed Atlantic salmon.

–Grains

Whole grains are highly beneficial. I recommend four small daily portions of whole grains. Please be cautious of tricky labeling! Whole wheat is not the same as whole grain. Whole wheat may come entirely from wheat, however the entire wheat kernel is not included in the product you are buying, and hence does not represent a whole grain. Your whole grain source may include whole grain bread. My favorite is Ezekiel bread, which is available at most major grocery stores including Albertsons.

— Herbs and Spices

These are the best accompaniments having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Perhaps the most beneficial spice is Turmeric, with strong anti-oxidant and cancer-fighting properties. I purposely season my food extensively with Turmeric. Our diets should also contain plenty of garlic, red pepper, and cinnamon.

— Wine with meals

A Mediterranean diet permits one glass of high-quality red wine several days per week. A high-quality red wine contains a vast array of plant compounds with health-promoting molecules called phytonutrients. Among them, polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants, protecting against LDL oxidation and other pathologic sequelae of oxidative processes. Other phytonutrients play a role in the inhibition of platelet aggregation, vasodilation,etc.

– Dairy Products

The Mediterranean diet permits drinking skim milk, as well as high-quality Greek yogurt. Several servings of soft cheeses per week are also permissible.

— For dessert, eat fresh fruit

Instead of ice cream or cake, opt for strawberries, fresh figs, grapes, or an apple. Be cautious that a yogurt desert is likely to be no more healthy than ice cream.


Dr.James Kneller is one of the best cardiologist (Cardiac Electrophysiologist) in the state of Washington. Specializing in treating heart conditions like Atrial Fibriilation (irregular heartbeat) and other cardiovascular diseases.

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