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Eat a Mediterranean diet to boost heart health


The Mediterranean Diet is ranked as 2022’s best diet regimen for overall health benefits. It’s also a great way to boost your heart health.

“It’s a lifestyle adjustment for the long term,” said Sara Fausett, a registered dietitian nutritionist who works at Intermountain Cedar City Hospital. “It’s doable, not restrictive, and will give you peace of mind, help your body, boost heart health — and you get to pick what you eat.”

The Mediterranean diet, ranked as 2022’s top diet by U.S. News and World Report’s panel of experts, is a healthy eating plan based on how people eat and drink in the 16 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

The Mediterranean diet is a plant-based regimen focusing on minimizing processed foods, flexibility in food choices, and a healthy lifestyle, including family-style meals, physical activity, and responsible drinking for those who imbibe, Fausett said.

The diet’s focus on plant-based nutrition can reduce the risk of diseases and health conditions including heart disease and high blood pressure, Fausett said. Plant-based vitamins, minerals and fiber tend to decrease low-grade body inflammation, and fiber helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure, Fausett said.

Here’s a basic introduction to the Mediterranean diet:

Foods to eat every day, without restriction:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Beans and legumes
  • Nuts and seeds

Foods to eat throughout the week, in moderation:

  • Fish and seafood
  • Poultry and eggs
  • Low-fat cheese and yogurt

Foods to eat once or twice a month in small portions:

  • Red meat
  • Sweets

“At first, people look at this and say, ‘What happened to the beef?’ Could we eat beef and still do the Mediterranean diet? Sure. Try a leaner cut, or cut off as much of the excess fat as you can, and replace some beef with fish, seafood, poultry and eggs,” Fausett said.

“You don’t have to follow this religiously. Instead, use the Mediterranean diet as a guide for what to choose when grocery shopping, what to prepare at home, and what to choose at restaurants. It’s a healthy lifestyle builder that most anyone can benefit from doing.”

For details, meal ideas, and recipes, view Intermountain Healthcare’s tips for making the move to the Mediterranean diet.

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Two women talking about Mediterranean diet and heart health