Mediterranean Diet: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

The Mediterranean diet features foods eaten in Greece, Spain, southern Italy and France, and other countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. It emphasizes eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and high-fibre grains, and limits meat, cheese, and sweets.

The Mediterranean diet may:

  • Prevent heart disease and lower the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
  • Lower cholesterol.
  • Prevent type 2 diabetes.
  • Prevent Alzheimer's disease and other dementia.
  • Prevent depression.
  • Prevent Parkinson's disease.

This diet contains more fat than other heart-healthy diets. But the fats are mainly from nuts, unsaturated oils, such as fish oils, olive oil, and certain nut or seed oils (such as canola, soybean, or flaxseed oil). These types of oils may help protect the heart and blood vessels.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

What to eat

  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables each day, such as grapes, blueberries, tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, figs, olives, spinach, eggplant, beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
  • Eat a variety of whole-grain foods each day, such as oats, brown rice, and whole wheat bread, pasta, and couscous.
  • Eat fish at least 2 times a week. Try tuna, salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring, or sardines.
  • Eat moderate amounts of low-fat dairy products, such as milk, cheese, or yogurt.
  • Eat moderate amounts of poultry and eggs.
  • Choose healthy (unsaturated) fats, such as nuts, olive oil and certain nut or seed oils like canola, soybean, and flaxseed.
  • Limit unhealthy (saturated) fats, such as butter, palm oil, and coconut oil. And limit fats found in animal products, such as meat and dairy products made with whole milk. Try to eat red meat only a few times a month in very small amounts.
  • Limit sweets and desserts to only a few times a week. This includes sugar-sweetened drinks like soda.

The Mediterranean diet may also include red wine with your meal—1 glass each day for women and up to 2 glasses a day for men.

Tips for changing your diet

  • Dip bread in a mix of olive oil and fresh herbs instead of using butter.
  • Add avocado slices to your sandwich instead of bacon.
  • Have fish for lunch or dinner instead of red meat. Brush the fish with olive oil, and broil or grill it.
  • Sprinkle your salad with seeds or nuts instead of cheese.
  • Cook with olive or canola oil instead of butter or oils that are high in saturated fat.
  • Switch from 2% milk or whole milk to 1% or skim milk.
  • Dip raw vegetables in a vinaigrette dressing or hummus instead of dips made from mayonnaise or sour cream.
  • Have a piece of fruit for dessert instead of a piece of cake. Try baked apples, or have some dried fruit.

Part of the Mediterranean diet is being active. Get at least 2½ hours of exercise a week. Walking is a good choice. You also may want to do other activities, such as running, swimming, cycling, or playing tennis or team sports.

Where can you learn more?

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Current as of: November 11, 2016