Life Extension Magazine May 2008
The Miami Mediterranean Diet
By Michael Ozner, MD, FACC, FAHA
The broad-spectrum health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet have been medically evaluated more than any other diet in the world. The science is overwhelming—in one delicious diet program you can not only lose weight but lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis. In this exclusive excerpt, we present many of the compelling reasons why the Miami Mediterranean Diet is your blueprint towards better health and greater longevity.
We are at war in the United States of America. The enemy is quite formidable. It kills more people than all of the wars we have previously fought. Every 30 seconds it claims another victim. We have identified the enemy but we have not defeated it. Its name is cardiovascular disease. Is there a solution? Can we defeat cardiovascular disease and its manifestations (heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease)? The answer is yes!
First, we must realize that our most effective weapon is prevention, not intervention. Prevention strategies must begin at an early age and continue for life. Proper diet, exercise, stress management, smoking cessation, and appropriate medical therapy are the weapons we need in our ongoing battle against heart disease.
The toxic American diet and lifestyle is killing you and your family. Our food is contaminated with pesticides and preservatives and contains an excessive amount of trans fat, saturated fat, high-fructose corn syrup, and sodium.
The explosive rise in heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity is directly linked to the food we eat and the lifestyle we lead. We have been led to believe that the solution to this epidemic is to be found with medical or surgical intervention. Unfortunately, despite the billions of dollars we spend on health care, we continue to suffer and die unnecessarily from diseases that can be prevented.
I have been practicing preventive cardiology for more than 25 years and have helped countless number of patients discover the real secret of long-term health—an optimal diet and lifestyle. By following the principles of the Miami Mediterranean Diet and lifestyle, expensive medications can be reduced or eliminated and risky surgical intervention can be avoided.
The Mediterranean diet has been shown to be the ideal dietary plan for long-term heart health and weight control. I have utilized the principles of the traditional Mediterranean diet in my Miami cardiovascular disease prevention practice and adapted it to our modern lifestyle to successfully treat patients and greatly reduce their risk of heart attack, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.
It would be great if we had a single dietary and lifestyle plan that would allow us to live a long and healthy life, free of chronic illnesses that lead to needless misery and suffering. The good news is that we do! The Mediterranean diet and lifestyle lowers the risk of a multitude of chronic diseases.
You may very well wonder how a single eating plan can afford all these benefits. That’s a fair question. The secret seems to lie in the fact that the Mediterranean diet is synergistic. This means that the components are not only nutritious in themselves but when they are combined with one another they act together to provide added benefit. In essence this makes them more powerful in combination than if they were eaten separately.
Fruits, vegetables, and olive oil contained in the Miami Mediterranean Diet are very rich in antioxidants, which help prevent the damaging effects of oxidation, which contributes to the aging process that damages your body’s cells. This oxidation process is thought to play a major role in causing heart disease, cancer, and other disease as well.
Also, the Miami Mediterranean Diet features whole-grain foods rich in fiber, which has been shown to help balance cholesterol and also prevent some forms of cancer.
Finally, this diet also has been found to have an anti-inflammatory effect, and inflammation is strongly linked to the development of heart disease, cancer, and other ailments such as arthritis.
In short, if you were looking for a diet that would benefit your entire body, you could do no better than to choose the Miami Mediterranean Diet, which, in addition to preventing cardiovascular disease, has been found to reduce the risk of these major life-threatening and disabling diseases as well:
Lower Your Cholesterol The Natural Way
The Mediterranean diet has been shown to lower LDL-cholesterol, raise the HDL-cholesterol and lower triglycerides. I have had many patients reduce or eliminate their cholesterol-lowering medications after several months on the Miami Mediterranean Diet (remember, any decision to adjust your medications should be made by your personal treating physician). The improvement in cholesterol and triglycerides helps to explain the cardiovascular benefit of following a Mediterranean diet.
The top foods responsible for the favorable impact on cholesterol are listed below:
Fruits and vegetables—fiber contained in fruits and vegetables lowers cholesterol. In addition, fruits and vegetables contain plant sterols that interfere with intestinal absorption of cholesterol, thereby helping to lower cholesterol:
In addition, exercise, an integral part of a Miami Mediterranean lifestyle, raises the good (HDL) cholesterol, lowers triglycerides, and makes the bad (LDL) cholesterol particles larger and less likely to cause heart attacks and strokes.
Tangy Orange Roasted Asparagus Salad
Makes six servings
1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed
and cut into 1⁄2-inch diagonal pieces
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
4 tablespoons fresh sweet
no pulp orange juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 cloves finely minced garlic
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
7 cups chopped fresh romaine lettuce
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil leaf
Freshly grated Romano cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 450˚F. Toss asparagus with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt to taste. Arrange asparagus in a baking dish in a single layer and place in oven. Roast until tender crispy, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
In a bowl briskly whisk orange juice, lime juice, garlic, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and pepper to taste.
When ready to serve, divide lettuce into six servings and arrange on salad plates and top with asparagus. Briefly whisk the dressing and pour over lettuce and asparagus salad. Top with toasted pine nuts and fresh minced basil. Garnish with a small amount of grated cheese if desired.
To toast pine nuts in the oven: Preheat oven to 375˚F. Place the nuts in one layer on a non-stick baking sheet. Bake at 450˚F, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Approx. 124 calories per serving
4 g protein, 10 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat,
0 g trans fat, 6 g carbohydrates,
0 mg cholesterol, 16 mg sodium, 3 g fiber
Baked Stuffed Trout
Makes four servings
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2⁄3 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 lemon, juiced and rind grated
1⁄3 cup seedless dark raisins, chopped
1⁄2 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1⁄4 cup egg substitute
4 whole trout (each about 12 oz), scaled and gutted
Olive oil spray
Lemon wedges for garnish
Preheat oven to 375˚F. In a skillet heat 2 tablespoons of oil, add onions and garlic, cook until soft and remove from heat.
In a large bowl mix breadcrumbs, grated lemon rind, raisins, pine nuts, parsley, dill, salt, and pepper. Add garlic mixture and egg and mix well together. Stuff each trout with mixture and place in a single layer on an oil-sprayed shallow baking pan.
Make several diagonal slashes along the body of each fish and drizzle lemon juice and remaining tablespoon of oil over fish. Bake at 375˚F for about 30-45 minutes or until fish flakes. Serve hot garnished with lemon wedges.
Approx. 579 calories per serving
61 g protein, 30 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat,
0 g trans fat, 13 g carbohydrates,
284 mg cholesterol, 547 mg sodium, 1 g fiber
Toasted Crepe Cups with Fresh Berries in a Lemon Yogurt Sauce
Makes four servings
4 (prepared) flat crepes
(use only trans-fat free brands)
Canola oil cooking spray
1⁄2 cup plus 4 tablespoons
low-fat plain yogurt
1⁄2 cup fat-free cream cheese
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons non-caloric sweetener
10 pecan halves, chopped
1 cup blueberries
(fresh or frozen, thawed)
8 strawberries, hulled and sliced
4 whole strawberries, cleaned
for garnish (optional)
4 fresh mint leaves for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 325˚F. Invert 4 oven-proof dessert cups on a baking sheet and lightly spray the outside of each cup with cooking oil spray. Form 1 flat crepe around each dessert cup, folding crepes down the center to fit cup size better if needed. Crepes will not adhere completely to cups but will take on enough of its form to give them a cup shape when baked. Spray tops of crepes very lightly with cooking oil spray and place baking sheet in oven. Bake crepes until golden brown and crispy, (about 6-7 minutes). Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing crepes from cups. Meanwhile combine yogurt and cream cheese in a bowl. Stir until well blended. Add in lemon juice and sweetener. Stir until all ingredients are well blended. Add pecans to mixture and gently fold in blueberries and strawberries. Divide mixture into 4 portions and spoon into formed crepe cups. Garnish with a fresh whole strawberry and a fresh mint leaf if desired.
Approx: 133 calories per serving
5 g protein, 3 g total fat, 0 saturated fat, 0 trans-fat,
16 g carbohydrates, 23 mg cholesterol,
180 mg sodium, 2 g fiber
Excerpted with permission from The Miami Mediterranean Diet—Expanded Edition by Michael Ozner, MD (BenBella Books, Inc., Dallas, Texas, 2008).