Keep heart troubles at bay

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Keep heart troubles at bay

The thought of a dining table set up for a meal with fruits and vegetables can be enough to turn you into a glutton. And with green predominant on the table, it promises great health too!

According to a report published by The New England Journal of Medicines, 30 per cent of heart attacks, strokes and resulting deaths from heart disease can be prevented if people switch to a Mediterranean diet.

As the name suggests, the diet or cuisine comes from the Mediterranean sea region and neighbouring countries including Spain, France, Italy, Lebanon, Algeria and Egypt. It is rich in vegetables, fruits, olive oil, nuts, beans, yoghurt and cheese with an emphasis on poultry and seafood, grains, beans and pastas. All these are mixed with olive oil, which is the most prevalent fat or oil used in the preparation of salads, marinades, vegetables, poultry and seafood, making it an appropriate diet for those combating cardiovascular diseases.

Facts prove that cardiovascular diseases are the number one killer in India. About 25 per cent of deaths in the age group of 25-69 years occur because of heart diseases. But “with a small modification in our daily routine and by adopting Mediterranean diet, we can easily avert the risk of cardiovascular diseases. This diet is rich in nutrients, easy to follow and highly beneficial when coupled with exercise,” says Dr Amar Singhal, HOD, Interventional Cardiology, Action Cancer Institute.

Strikingly, the Mediterranean cuisine has a lot of similarity with the Indian cuisine and is thus not so difficult to be incorporated in our daily diet. “The kind of spices and herbs that are used are similar in Indian and Mediterranean cuisines,” says Chef Jitender Singh of Amour - The Patio Restaurant Café explaining that while in “India we use a lot of curd, in Mediterranean region the cold Mezzes (selection of small dishes served during a meal) are nothing but a form of hung curd or yoghurt, which is good for health and skin too,” he adds.

But the question is to how to include Mediterranean diet in our so-called daily Indian menu? To this, Chef Rohit Tokhi from Kempinski Ambience Hotel suggests the crucial part that olive oil can play. “When one thinks of Mediterranean cuisine, what immediately comes to the mind is olive oil! It is the best option to cut down cholesterol in our body. If we use olive oil then even while cooking simple baigan and aloo gobi ki sabzi we can reduce our intake of saturated fat while still retaining the taste.”

In addition to this, Chef Rohit suggests a few Mediterranean dishes that are easy to prepare in Indian kitchens. “Mediterranean breads like Focaccia is quite similar to Lakhnavi naan. But the latter is rich in fat due to high content of desi ghee whereas Focaccia has a water based dough which makes it necessary to be consumed fresh.” This bread can be a good option for evening snacks in place of samosas and chaats!

Olives and eggplant toasted with bread is also easy to prepare. “Baba Ganoush which has roasted eggplant blended with olive oil and sesame seeds is a healthy munching dish. Plus fresh fruits can be incorporated in our diet in the form of salads like the Mediterranean Panzanella which is almost a complete dish with olives, onion and chinks of Focaccia,” shares Chef Rohit adding that chilled soups like the tomato-based Gazpacho with fresh cucumber can help to beat the heat in a healthy way and also keep heart troubles at bay!

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