The name Mediterranean Diet comes from the cuisines common in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, like Italy, France, Greece and Spain. People in those countries tend to eat lots of fish, fruits, fresh veggies and healthy grains prepared with olive oil and accompanied by the occasional glass of red wine. This diet is in stark contrast with the food many Americans eat daily, like hefty portions of meat, unhealthy fats and processed food. An in-home caregiver can help your aging loved one stay on track with a healthy diet.
What’s the Benefit?
You may be wondering if it is worth the effort to change to the Mediterranean Diet. Scientists say you can reduce your risk of mortality from cardiovascular and other causes by switching. The Mediterranean Diet can lower your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) that can build harmful deposits in your arteries, lowering your risk of heart disease. The diet has been associated with a lower risk of serious illnesses like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, major concerns for the elderly.
How to Eat a Mediterranean Diet
To eat a Mediterranean Diet, limit your intake of red meat to a few times monthly and replace it with fish and poultry twice weekly. Serve plant-based choices like legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables and nuts. Instead of using salt for flavoring, use spices and fresh herbs. Replace butter with healthy fats such as canola oil and olive oil. They often drink a glass of red wine with their meals. People in the Mediterranean region typically enjoy their meals in a social setting with others.
Antioxidants and Healthy Fats
The Mediterranean Diet is rich in antioxidants, compounds that are found in some foods that can delay cellular damage that leads to disease. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants. People in Mediterranean countries generally eat whole grain bread and pasta. Instead of using butter on their bread, they eat their bread plain or dip it into olive oil or tahini. Virgin or extra-virgin olive oil have the highest level of antioxidants and are the least processed. Nuts are also a staple in the Mediterranean diet. They are high in healthy fat, but beware. A handful each day is enough, since they are also high in calories. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, trout and sardines are a good source of healthy fat, omega-3 fatty acids.
What to Avoid
When you switch to a Mediterranean diet, read the label and avoid transfats found in many baked goods, margarine and even microwave popcorn. Stay away from high fat dairy products and choose low fat products like skim milk and fat-free yogurt and low fat cheese. Nuts are good, but avoid highly salted or honeyed nuts. Serve meat sparingly, and strive for multiple servings of fruit and vegetables daily. Get rid of the salt shaker and instead use flavorful herbs and spices. You might even grow your own, like basil.
Hire an In-Home Caregiver to Help you Stay On Track
An in-home caregiver can help your loved one stay on track with a healthy diet. Home Helpers of South Shore is owned and operated by a compassionate health professional with a strong understanding of the needs of aging seniors. Contact Home Helpers to help your aging loved one.
Please fill out the form on the left and we will get in touch with you about setting up in-home health care, or call us at 781-585-1244 to determine the plan that is right for you.
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