Focused on eating a heart-healthy diet this year? Try adding healthy fats, oily fish, root veggies and citrus fruits to your menu and snacking. Research suggests the Mediterranean diet, and its superfoods, may prevent disease, improve your health, and help you live longer.
Good Fats: Olive Oil, Shelled Nuts and Yes, Butter
You might know that olive oil tops the “good” fats recommended on the Mediterranean Diet. But, do you know butter is also also highly recommended? That’s right, butter and other unsweetened, full-fat dairy products provide valuable fatty acids and vitamins. Enjoy butter, traditionally aged cheese, and yogurt or kefir in moderation - up to three servings a day.
Miles Hassell, M.D. and Mea Hassell in their book “Great Food, Great Medicine, A Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle Guide,” recommend only using olive oil and real, unsalted butter. Their book cites dozens of health studies supporting natural fats. Avoid margarine, they add. For a soft spread, they suggest mixing butter with olive oil.
Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and almonds also provide the healthy fat that our brains, skin, and hair need. We only need a handful daily though. Cracking shelled nuts slows consumption and creates mindfulness to help us get that healthy fat without overindulging. Plus, shelled nuts are typically in stores during the winter months.
Oily-rich Fish for Luck, Prosperity and Heart Health
Does your family snack on pickled herring during the winter? Several cultures have a tradition of eating pickled herring for luck and prosperity. Whether it’s lucky or not, oil-rich fish has an abundance of health benefits! Studies show eating herring, sardines, salmon, and tuna may lower your chances of heart disease, dementia, stroke, and depression. We call that good fortune!
We’ve talked about sweet potatoes before, yet they’re so super we’ll mention them again. Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant and source of vitamin A. Your skin, bones, vision, reproductive health, and immune system all benefit from beta carotene. For a super side dish, try baking sweet potato fries with olive oil and herbs, or chili powder and cayenne. They turn out fabulous in an air fryer too. Tired of sweet potatoes? Turnips are loaded with fiber and vitamins and make great fries too!
Brighten Your Winter with Juicy Citrus Fruits
Lastly, it’s the season for juicy citrus fruits in North America and these treats ooze health benefits. Sunshine fruits like oranges, clementines, grapefruit, and kumquats provide multiple nutrients, like vitamin C, fiber, and a list of flavonoids.
Citrus flavonoids may reduce inflammation and protect your cells against free radical damage, explains dietician Anna Nekrich in this University of Washington article. She says flavonoids may have therapeutic benefits against cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, the buildup of plaque in and on artery walls. Research suggests they may also inhibit “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) and improve arterial blood pressure.
There are so manyhealth reasons to enjoy these five super tasty, superfoods. Enjoy!
Photo credit: Regenia Fondren, via Pixy