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Why Is the Mediterranean Diet Healthy for the Heart?

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Beginning in the 1960s, physicians and researchers became intrigued with the senior population in France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. They found that several older adults lived well beyond their 90th birthday. In fact, the researchers were surprised to find it was not unusual for people to live to be 100 or older. One of the secrets behind their longevity and heart health lies in their diet, which has become known as the Mediterranean diet.

Prevents Cardiovascular Disease

As many of the older adults in the Mediterranean countries were not affluent, they mainly consumed a plant-based diet. Many of the fruits and vegetables used in meals came from their own gardens and fruit trees. These foods reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, while offering antioxidant protection. Any desserts the people enjoyed were made from fresh fruits and sometimes sweetened with honey, which kept blood sugar levels and triglycerides within normal levels.

Switching to the Mediterranean diet is one of the many ways seniors can reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional elderly care. Colorado Springs, CO, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life.

Reduces Inflammation

Eating oily fish two to three times each week provides omega-3 fatty acids. The Mediterranean diet includes anchovies, herring, mackerel, sardines, or tuna that naturally inhibit inflammation. By reducing or preventing inflammation, the cardiovascular system functions more efficiently. Red meat is eaten sparingly, which also keeps cholesterol levels in check. Along with fish and occasionally poultry, protein comes from legumes and nuts.

Instead of consuming an abundance of salt, Mediterranean dishes are seasoned with a variety of herbs and spices. Salt causes fluid retention for many older adults, which leads to hypertension and stresses the heart. Garlic and oregano are often used in cooking to enhance flavor, and they also boast anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. One or two glasses of red wine are enjoyed with a meal, which provides anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties.

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Provides Heart-Healthy Fats

People in the Mediterranean region get an average of 35 to 40 percent of their daily calories from fat. However, with the exception of fish, the fat is monounsaturated and comes from olive oil, nuts, and seeds. Monounsaturated fats do not elevate LDL cholesterol, which reduces the risk of developing vascular plaques. Dairy products and creamed sauces are consumed sparingly. For breakfast, people in Greece often enjoy Greek yogurt, which provides calcium and vitamin D.

Excludes Processed Foods

The meals prepared by the people in the Mediterranean regions are made fresh using locally grown and harvested foods. Processed foods are not part of the diet, which means seniors do not consume an abundance of salt, sugar, saturated fats, and chemical additives commonly found in convenience foods, allowing them to maintain a healthy weight. Pasta is typically homemade using whole-grain wheat flour, and it is consumed as a side dish rather than the main entrée.

Seniors may need assistance making healthier lifestyle choices, and they can benefit from professional in-home care. If your aging loved one needs occasional help with bathing, grooming, cooking, or other basic household tasks, or if you need time to attend to important personal matters, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of live-in and respite care. Colorado Springs seniors can maintain their independence while living at home with the help of our reliable respite caregivers. To learn about our revolutionary in-home care methods, call us at (719) 822-1229 today.

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