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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine May 2008
Reports

The Miami Mediterranean Diet

By Michael Ozner, MD, FACC, FAHA
The Miami Mediterranean Diet

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!

Dark Chocolate—It Tastes Too Good To Be Healthy!

Chocolate can be enjoyed on the Miami Mediterranean Diet, as long as it is dark chocolate. The cocoa bean is one of the richest sources of beneficial antioxidants, especially those known as flavonols. Flavonols help to lower blood pressure, balance cholesterol, and maintain a favorable blood glucose level.

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.

Dark Chocolate—It Tastes Too Good To Be Healthy!

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.

Lower Your Cholesterol The Natural Way

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:

  • Alzheimer’s disease

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Cancer

  • Metabolic syndrome

  • Diabetes

  • Arthritis

  • Allergies

  • Asthma

  • Chronic obstructive lung disease

  • Depression

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

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.

Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranate Juice

Research studies find pomegranate juice helps lower blood pressure, reduces the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque, and preserves nitric oxide, a key chemical in the body that contributes to keeping the coronary arteries healthy.

Pomegranate juice is also a great source of vitamin C and potassium, and it contains less sugar than some other fruit juices. But don’t let the enthusiasm for pomegranate juice discourage you from trying the fruit itself; it’s perfect for eating and cooking.

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:

  • Olive oil

  • Oatmeal

  • Nuts­—especially almonds

  • Beans

  • Cold water fish—abundant in omega-3 fat, which lowers triglycerides

  • Red wine—raises the good (HDL)

  • cholesterol

  • Cinnamon—lowers the bad (LDL) cholesterol

  • Whole grains (bread, cereal, etc)

  • Soluble fiber

  • Soy protein

  • Plant sterol margarine

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.

What are Plant Sterols?

Plant sterols (phytosterols) are found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, cereals, and legumes, whereas cholesterol is derived from animals. Plant sterols are beneficial because they interfere with the intestinal absorption of cholesterol, thereby lowering cholesterol levels. Certain vegetable spreads found in the grocery store also contain plant sterols that can lower cholesterol and are beneficial to long-term health—especially when used to replace butter or margarine.

Recipes

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.

Omega-3 Deficiency– The Scurvy of Our Time

It has been suggested that up to 90% of Americans are omega-3-deficient. Omega-3 fat is anti-inflammatory (reduces inflammation), whereas omega-6 fat is pro-inflammatory (promotes inflammation). The omega-6/omega-3 ratio should be 1/1; however, due to the decrease in omega-3 intake (especially cold water fish, flaxseed, walnuts) and increase in omega-6 intake (especially corn oil, red meat), the omega-6/omega-3 ratio in America is approximately 10/1 to 20/1.

Do not despair—by following a Mediterranean diet you will provide your body with an ample amount of omega-3 fat and decrease the amount of omega-6 fat. Omega-3 supplements (fish oil) can also be beneficial, especially if cold water fish consumption is limited.

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).

High-Fructose Corn Syrup—The Hidden Danger

It’s smart to avoid table sugar, but there’s even a more sinister sweetener lurking on your supermarket shelves— high-fructose corn syrup. In contrast to ordinary sugar, high-fructose corn syrup is not utilized by the muscles as an energy source; instead, it goes directly to the liver and leads to an increase in triglyceride production.

When shopping, read nutritional labels and avoid this sinister sweetener. By following the Miami Mediterranean Diet you need not worry – the recipes in this book do not contain high-fructose corn syrup.