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When in Rome...

Health Notes from Dr. Liz

May 29, 2014

Eat like they do in Rome and for that matter, other Mediterranean countries like Greece and Spain. Research studies suggest Mediterranean–based diets improve heart health, lower risk of developing diabetes and even delay onset of dementia. Typical local fare includes these simple staples from various Mediterranean regions such as olives, vegetables, fish, nuts, cheese and fruit. All of these foods supply crucial nutrients, a good balance of healthy fats and special phytonutrients that help bolster your body’s “amour” to everyday living. Prepare Mediterranean–inspired meals using these simple foods and eat as they do in Rome.

Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Its potent antioxidants combat inflammation and prevent LDL (the bad carrier of cholesterol) from damaging artery walls. Drizzle on salads, breads and pasta and use to saute veggies.
Make fish a weekly happening: Eating fish such as salmon or tuna brings omega–3s into your system which in turn boosts immune strength and fights inflammation. Studies show fish eaters have lower risk for heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
Put greens, onion and beets on your plate: These and other veggies supply quercetin and folate that protect blood vessels and improve heart and brain health.
Include citrus, berries and more: Research shows fruit eaters have a better intake of key antioxidants and a lower risk for heart disease. Aim for three different whole fruits daily.
Insist on whole grains: Eating brown over white or whole wheat over “un”whole white makes more than common sense, it’s a must–do step for better health. Whole grains offer prebiotic “food” for health bacteria that live inside of you while also supplying fiber that curbs your appetite and ultimately may help you control your weight. Aim for every grain food in your diet as a whole grain selection.
Go nuts: Walnuts contain protective antioxidant phenols that have been shown to improve blood vessel function and eating nuts regularly lowers heart disease risk. Aim for a 1–oz. serving most days of the week.
Say “cheese” and yogurt: Eating cultured dairy as many Mediterranean cultures have for hundreds of years, may offer many age–defying benefits such as helping to regulate healthy blood pressure and mitigating other heart–disease factors. Researchers feel the regular infusion of health bacteria may have a wide array of benefits that includes a long life!
And of course drink wine: Red wine contains resveratrol, which keeps platelets from clumping, reducing risk for heart disease. Keep consumption in moderation (no more than one 5oz.– glass for women and two for men daily, if you choose to drink).

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