2013-09-13 / Sports

Jen’s Fitness Forum

By Jen Font de Bon

I believe that optimum health and happiness root from maintaining a well-rounded balanced lifestyle. Living consciously, finding moderation, staying active, and keeping a diet rich in whole nutritious foods helps us feel our best; and if we as individuals are good, everything around us will be better because of it.

The Mediterranean diet is one inspired by the lifestyle and dietary patterns of Greece, southern France, Spain, and southern Italy. It features high consumption of plant products, unrefined cereals, and olive oil, moderate consumption of fish, dairy and wine, and low consumption of red meat.

The following are some tips and reasons why this diet plan, paired with regular physical activity, can lead to a long, healthy life!

Use OLIVE OIL instead of butter, margarine, or other vegetable oils. While butter has mostly saturated fat, olive oil is rich in healthy monounsaturated fat and can help lower a person’s cholesterol level. Studies have shown olive oil to support heart health, cognition, bone health, and digestive health. Furthermore, it includes anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

NUTS are also high in monounsaturated fat. Eat them natural or lightly salted and shoot for a handful a day. Nuts are metabolized slowly by the body, which makes them a satisfying snack option. They also help protect against certain types of cancer, support heart health, and aid in reducing stress.

Eat LEGUMES as a healthier alternative to meat. High in protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber, legumes control the appetite and provide constant energy that lasts. Moreover, the soluble fiber in legumes helps lower blood cholesterol, thereby decreasing risk of cardiovascular disease. Dried beans and peas are rich in vitamins and minerals, especially folic acid, copper, iron, and magnesium.

Consume WHOLE GRAINS daily to steer clear of diseases, rev up the metabolism, build stronger bones, and keep a healthy immune system. Whole grains contain valuable antioxidants that are not found in fruits and vegetables, and they’re a good source of fiber, iron, magnesium, B vitamins, and vitamin E. Some options include: wheat, rice, corn, quinoa, spelt, buckwheat, and barley.

FISH is rich in healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. Since the body does not produce Omega-3 on its own, it’s important to get it from food. Eat fish two times per week to protect your mind, heart, and joints.

Base every meal around fresh FRUITS and VEGETABLES. Numerous studies show that a diet rich in fresh plant products helps reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, digestive problems and obesity. It protects against certain types of cancer, helps lower blood pressure and decreases bone loss. Fill your plate with different colored fruits and vegetables to make sure you’re getting a wide spectrum of necessary vitamins and minerals.

A few more tips…
 Consume moderate amounts of dairy,
especially yogurt and cheese.
 Choose fresh, minimally processed
foods.
 Use fresh herbs and spices for flavor in
lieu of salt.
 Keep red meat consumption to a minimum.  Drink mostly water.
 Consume moderate amounts of red
wine with meals.
Questions, comments? E-mail: jennifer. fontdebon@gmail.com

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