The Best Oil, Fish and Cheese Options for Your Heart

Expert advice on the most heart-healthy choices

Sometimes it seems like a world of endless food choices. But even for those of us who have settled on a particular way of eating — such as the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet — there are many decisions still to be made. Extra virgin olive oil, or virgin olive oil? Salmon or sea bass?
The Mediterranean diet is based on ingredients from plant sources and minimally processed foods, including olive oil, fish and legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables, skinless poultry and low-fat dairy.
Many cardiologists, dietitians and other health care professionals say the Mediterranean diet is the gold standard of heart-healthy diets, says Julia Zumpano, RD, LD, a registered dietitian in Cleveland Clinic’s section of Preventive Cardiology. But, she says, there are some important details to which you should pay attention.
Here are Ms. Zumpano’s tips for eating well within the Mediterranean diet.

Options for olive oil

Olive oil is a primary source of fat in the Mediterranean diet, but there are several kinds.  So should you go with light, virgin or extra virgin olive oil?
“Extra virgin olive oil is the best choice because it’s the least processed compared with other oil grades, including light and virgin,” Zumpano says.
Olive oil is produced by grinding olives and extracting the oil by mechanical or chemical means. The word virgin means the oil was produced by the use of mechanical means only.
Extra virgin olive oil, or EVOO, is of higher quality. Among other attributes, it contains no more than 0.8 percent free acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. EVOO also has a higher nutritional content, with antioxidants that have been linked with better health.
The best use of extra virgin olive oil, which is the most expensive grade, is at room temperature, such as in salad dressings, Zumpano says…..
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Source: Cleveland Clinic