Leading heart experts said patients should be prescribed the diet - rich in fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, whole grains and olive oil - before being put on drugs.But what does that really mean, and how much of these should we be eating?
Here’s some helpful advice about how to follow the Mediterranean diet as studied in clinical trials:The first thing people notice about this diet is the limit on fish, nuts, meat and dairy to only three servings a week – not every day. Also, notice the lack of animal fat. In this diet, meat is an accent and not a centerpiece, of your meal.
- Vegetables: Three servings a day. One serving equals 1/2 cooked or 1 cup of raw vegetables.
- Fruits: Three servings a day. One serving equals 1/2 to 1 cup.
- Olive oil: One tablespoon a day, but no more than four tablespoons a day. This includes your cooking oil.
- Legumes: Three servings a week of beans, peas, alfalfa, peanuts, etc.
- Fish: Three servings a week. The smellier the fish are, the better, because smelly fish contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Smart choices include salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, mackerel and anchovies.
- Nuts: Three servings a week. One serving equals 1/4 cup, one ounce or two tablespoons of nut butter. Ideally, go for raw, unsalted and dry-roasted walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts.
- Starches: Three to six servings a day. One serving equals 1/2 cup cooked, one slice of bread or one ounce of dry cereal. Choose whole grains, oats, barley, brown rice, quinoa and red skin or sweet potatoes.
- White meat: Three three-ounce servings a week. Choose skinless poultry, which includes choices such as chicken, turkey, pheasants and ostrich instead of red meat. You should have no more than one serving, meaning three ounces, of red meat a week. Choose lean cuts such as sirloin, tenderloin or flank steak if you have to have red meat.
- Dairy/eggs: Three servings a week. Choose 1 percent or fat-free milk, yogurt or cottage cheese. There are no limits on egg whites.
- Desserts: One three-ounce serving a week. If possible, let fruit be your dessert. If you have to eat baked goods, choose one with healthy ingredients, and eat smaller portions.
- Wine: Four to six ounces a day. No beer or hard liquor; drinking wine is optional. Don’t start drinking if you’ve never drank before. There is no good data that taking up alcohol will prevent heart disease.
Good luck with that.