Portugal and the entire Mediterranean have so much to offer: sunshine, a relaxed lifestyle and great food to name a few. If you’re interested in how to lower cholesterol through food and drink, eating a diet rich in natural food, and enjoying some tasty fare, check out what’s great about Portuguese cuisine and the Mediterranean diet.
Classic Portuguese fare
Portugal is one of Southern Europe’s countries where the Mediterranean diet is very much a way of life. In addition to a cracking climate, the cleanliness of their diet keeps the population healthy and looking great throughout the year.
Fresh meat, fish and veggies including peppers, tomatoes and onions, and copious amounts of olive oil are all central to the diet. They’re not just healthy though; dishes based around these ingredients like Bacalhau (cod), Portuguese Stew and Caldo Verde (potato and kale soup) are delicious too.
Health benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet
Protects against diseases
The Mediterranean diet is really good at fighting a number of diseases including Type 2 Diabetes, largely because it can prevent big swings in blood sugar levels. Heart disease, strokes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s have all been cited too, because further benefits of the diet include the ability to lower cholesterol, maintaining a healthy weight and providing an increased intake of anti-oxidants.
Low in sugar and processed food
If you were wondering about how to lower cholesterol levels through diet, decreasing the amount of saturated fats and sugars that you consume is one of the key things. The Mediterranean diet is full of fresh produce and ingredients; much healthier than their processed alternatives.
The power of olive oil
Olive oil is a major component of the Mediterranean diet and its almost magical powers have long been hailed.
To list just a few:
- Rich in Omega 3 and 6 oils – these are the healthy, monounsaturated fats which have many benefits, including supporting heart function.
- Anti-inflammatory properties – chronic inflammation can be a determining factor in the cause of a number of diseases, and regular olive oil intake can help reduce them.
- High in antioxidants – the antioxidants found in olive oil have been shown to help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in our blood, which in turn can help prevent heart disease.
- Anti-bacterial properties – there are a number of nutrients in olive oil that kill or inhibit harmful bacteria, and help fight against a number of stomach conditions.
Tips for making dietary changes
If you like the sound of eating more healthily and enjoying the benefits of a Mediterranean diet, there are a number of easy steps you can take:
- Eat breakfast every morning – this is the time to kick start your day with a meal rich in fibre, and one that will keep you fuller for longer.
- Eat lots of fresh vegetables – buy all different types; the more variety and different colours you choose the more nutrients you will get.
- Eat seafood twice a week – fish rich in Omega oils offers so many health benefits; tuna, salmon and mackerel are among several you can try, or even lobster.
- Go for good fats – replace saturated fats with olive oil, nuts and seeds for daily health.
- Eat a healthier dessert – replace ice cream with fresh fruit and yoghurt.
That’s plenty of info about Portuguese food, the Mediterranean diet and how you can make practical changes, so give them a try and you’ll soon reap the rewards. Happy eating!
Let me know if you have a favourite Portuguese dish? I’ve been to Lisbon and really rate the fresh sardines and choice of salads.