When you look around the globe, you see pockets of people who enjoy exceptionally long and healthy lives. For example, the people in the Mediterranean tend to live longer than their counterparts in the rest of Europe. What’s their secret? More and more evidence is pointing to their diet. By being smart about planning your meals, you can benefit too.
For a healthy heart, most of us know to limit our saturated fats, those usually found in red meat, butter, or other animal fat byproducts. As important as what not to eat is what you should eat.
Fruits & Vegetables: First and foremost, the bulk of your diet should come from fruits and vegetables – about half your plate should be filled with them. They are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and many have beneficial phytochemicals. Research has consistently shown that diets high in fruits and vegetables help maintain weight and lower the risk of heart disease. Plan to add them to your meals.
Whole grains: Contrary to popular belief, regardless of the diet plan you follow, whole grains are OK for all of them. The data on the benefits of whole grains is clear. Eating them helps protect against diabetes and heart disease.
Nuts: Many have shied away from nuts because of their fat content. It is true. Nuts are high in fat and calories, but they also contain omega-3s, which have been shown time and again to be beneficial in the reduction of heart disease risk. The key is moderation. A palm full of nuts can be 200 calories, so plan to eat them sparingly.
Green Tea: Study after study has shown the benefits of green tea on glucose metabolism, obesity, heart disease risk, and cancer risk. Having a few cups of tea a day instead of soda is a wise choice. It’s calorie free if you don’t load it up with milk and sugar.
Dark Chocolate: Note that this is DARK chocolate, not MILK chocolate. Dark chocolate is full of phytochemicals. These are believed to help blood pressure, and reduce diabetes risk. Again, moderation is the key. A daily dose of 1 square inch is all that is required.
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