More Information About Diet to Shape Up Your Heart

ht3If you think genetics have your heart-health doomed, there’s hope. New and emerging research published in the July 2010 issue of The American Heart Association’s Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes found that among middle-aged male twins, those who consumed a diet that most closely resembled a Mediterranean-style way of eating had a higher heart-rate variability. That’s an indication that the heart is more flexible in keeping up with all of life’s everyday physical trials. Conversely, low heart-rate variability is associated with an elevated risk for coronary-artery disease.

Need a refresher on what, exactly, makes up a Mediterranean diet? Here’s the gist: You fill your day with whole grains, fresh produce, nuts, seeds and fish, and add in small amounts of dairy and red wine (keeping an eye on portion sizes, as with any healthy eating plan). Generally, you have red meat only a few times a month. The Mediterranean diet is also marked by using unsaturated fats like olive oil instead of using animal fats, such as butter. If you’re used to buttering your pasta, vegetables or bread, try instead using a dash of olive oil. Or to replace some of the saturated fat in your diet, experiment with going meatless one day of the week. Relying on Smart Balance® Rich Roast Chunky or Creamy Peanut Butter or other meatless protein-packed staples like beans can help you feel full and satisfied.

Some people can’t get over that the Mediterranean diet encourages using fats like olive oil instead of skimping like other diets suggest. But olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, which of all the fats has the least negative impact on your cholesterol levels. The truth is, fats—the right combination of fats, that is—are important to your overall health. They provide the second-highest level of satiety after protein.