Facebook Pixel

The Mediterranean Heart-Healthy Diet

By HERWriter
Rate This

Wining and dining is a favorite pastime of those that live along the Mediterranean and research has proven the festive lifestyle is not only good for your soul, but also your heart.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “The Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy eating plan combining elements of Mediterranean-style cooking.” The plan incorporates healthy fats like delicious olive oil and even red wine.

“Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. In fact, a recent analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of overall and cardiovascular mortality, a reduced incidence of cancer and cancer mortality, and a reduced incidence of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.”

The Mediterranean Diet has its own food pyramid. At the base of the pyramid is a foundation of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, beans nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices. These foods should be included in every meal.

The second level consists of fish and seafood which should be eaten often, at least twice a week. Moderate portions of poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt make up the next layer. This means eat these foods daily to weekly.

Meats and Sweets make up the top of the pyramid which should be eaten, “less often.”

The key components of the Mediterranean diet according to the Mayo Clinic are as follows:

• Getting plenty of exercise
• Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
• Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
• Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
• Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
• Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
• Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)

The Mediterranean diet is followed by many who live in Greece. They eat less meat and have a diet rich in fruits and veggies.

The Mediterranean diet has been associated with a lower level of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the "bad" cholesterol that's more likely to build up deposits in your arteries.

Here is a delicious recipe by Chris Schlesinger from The Oldworld’s Table website. I chose to feature this recipe because it features many of the items from the Mediterranean Diet’s Pyramid foundation.

Aromatic Shrimp Salad with Mango and Peanuts


1 pound large shrimp (12 to 16)
2 firm mangos, peeled and cut into medium dice
1 red bell pepper, cut into medium dice
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into medium dice
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, minced
1/4 cup finely diced scallions, white and tender green parts
1 tablespoon minced fresh chiles
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger


1. In a pan over medium-high heat, poach the shrimp for 4 to 5 minutes, until bright pink and firm. Drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water. Cool, peel, devein and slice in half lengthwise.
2. In a large bowl, combine the poached shrimp with the mangos, red peppers, cucumbers, mint and cilantro.
3. To make the dressing, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, brown sugar, coriander, and white pepper. Whisk briefly. Pour the dressing over shrimp-mango mix. Toss gently.
4. To make the garnish, combine the peanuts, scallions, chiles, and ginger and toss briefly.
5. Divide the shrimp-mango mix among four plates and sprinkle the garnish mix over the top.

Nutrition Information:
Per Serving: Calories: 270, Protein: 9 grams, Fat: 11 grams, Saturated Fat: 1 gram, Carbohydrates: 37 grams, Fiber: 7 grams, Sodium: 2240 mg
Yields 4 servings


“The Mediterranean Diet – MayoClinic.com” Mayo Clinic. Web. 28 Aug. 2011.

“Aromatic Shrimp Salad with Mango and Peanuts – OldWaySpt.org” The Old Ways Table. Web. 28 Aug. 2011.

Joanne Sgro-Killworth is a Television Fitness Expert, Certified Personal Trainer and Sport Nutritionist. She is Certified in Pilates, Pre-natal/Post-Partum, Yoga and Senior Fitness. She specializes in Weight Loss, Post-Rehab and Post Cancer Training. Joanne's fitness plans and recipes are available globally on her website www.fitnessanswer.com. She resides in the Phoenix, AZ area with her husband, where she runs her personal training business, Fitness Answer, LLC.

Reviewed August 29, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



Get Email Updates

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!