The Mediterranean: A Heart Healthy Diet

Asma Merchant Jun 23 2015

The Mediterranean diet has been used for decades mainly in the Mediterranean region, hence the origin of the diet. Consistent and long term use of this type of diet has been shown to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Although not a calorie restricted diet, maintaining this healthy eating pattern with portion control and regular physical activity will aid in shedding the excess pounds and keeping lean and fit.

This diet consists mainly of fresh and natural foods instead of processed foods.

Foods should be rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as olive oil and nuts. Minimize the consumption of red meat, poultry eggs and processed meat. Take a look at the full guidelines if you want to go on the Mediterranean diet.

A Checklist for the Healthy Heart Diet

  1. Use a wide variety of plant based foods; such as seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts.
  2. Replace regular fats and oils with healthy oils such as olive and coconut.
  3. Use of herbs and spices to replace salt wherever possible i.e. reduce the use of salt
  4. Consumption of fish and poultry at least2-3 times per week
  5. Snack on fresh fruits and nuts
  6. Limit the use of red meat to only 2-3 times per month
  7. Use of whole grain breads and brown rice instead of refined Atta and white rice.
  8. For dairy choices, yogurt and low fat cheese variety are preferred.
  9. Although nuts are high in calorie and fats, these are healthy fats. These should be eaten in moderation with greater emphasis on walnuts and almonds.
  10. Omit the use of refined sugar by replacing it with natural sugar such as honey.


A heart healthy diet will make your overall lifestyle healthy, and with the help of certain heart healthy foods, you can also keep safe from diseases.


Salmon can reduce your blood pressure and keep the clotting of the blood at bay as salmon is rich in omega-3 acids which can lessen the risk heart attacks. 


Avocados are rich with monounsaturated fats that can lower the LDL levels and raises the amount of HDL cholesterol in our body. You can use avocado in a sandwich or salads as it adds amount of heart healthy fats in your diet.

Olive Oil

Olive oil lowers your bad LDL cholesterol and lessens the risk of developing heart diseases as they are full of monounsaturated fats.


Nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and they are loaded with mono and polyunsaturated fats.


Berries including strawberry, blueberry or raspberry are rich in anti-inflammatory. They reduce the risk of heart diseases and cancer.


Lentils, black beans and kidney beans are full of fiber as they are packed with omega 3 fatty acids, soluble fiber and calcium.


Spinach contains a complex of B vitamins, folate and other nutrients that keeps you healthy and help in fighting off diseases. You can add spinach in sandwich or salad as they are nutrient packed.


Flaxseed is full of fiber and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that can make your heart go a long way and keep your lifestyle healthy.


Soy is the healthy heart food that lowers your cholesterols they are very low in saturated fats, and they are a great source of lean protein.


Studies have shown broccoli helps fight off cancer and provides a better pumping ability for the heart. Broccoli helps to lessen the heart damage and provides a much higher level of good health chemicals.

Sweet Potato

High in vitamin A, vitamin B5, and B6, sweet potatoes are excellent for your health and keeps your heart healthy. Replace these for your regular potato French fry cravings.

Asma Merchant

Asma Merchant:

Asma Merchant has a degree in Food and Nutrition from University of Karachi. She believes in healthy living through a holistic approach, a long term commitment in adopting to balanced and healthy eating choices and by making lifestyle modifications.