Eating the Mediterranean Way

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February is known for several things, but one of the nearest and dearest to my heart (no pun intended) is American Heart Month. Although one of the most significant indicators of heart health is genetics, the next is an area where we have much more control. The choices we make at mealtime have a considerable impact on heart health. Many of us are busy and on a tight schedule. Unfortunately, most of our quick options for meals aren’t the greatest for heart health. Frozen meals tend to be very high in sodium, and fast food, well, we all know how they impact our health. The key to a successful change in diet is gradual, holistic, and focuses on an entire lifestyle.

One of the easiest ways to begin shifting your diet is by following the Mediterranean guidelines for eating. According to “Take Your Diet to the Mediterranean” by Johns Hopkins University, in a study conducted over eight years, Johns Hopkins researchers and others found that a Mediterranean-style diet combined with regular exercise, a healthy weight, and not smoking protected against early heart disease, slowed plaque build-up in artery walls, and reduced risk for premature death by 80 percent. This decrease in risk is substantial, and other benefits include weight loss, more natural energy, and getting to come off medications controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol.

If you are curious about the Mediterranean way of eating, join us at Yancey Cooperative Extension on February 17th at 1 p.m. for the first session of MED Instead of Meds. This program teaches seven simple steps to eat the Mediterranean way. Each class discusses 1-2 simple steps, a mindfulness skill, and Mediterranean recipes. Each session will include a food demonstration or cooking instruction, usually both! Spaces are limited, so please register by calling the office (828) 682-6186 or by visiting Med Instead signup form.