Adopt the eating style of countries along the Mediterranean Sea and reap the many health benefits.
It’s called a diet, but it’s more a way of life. Enjoying food and drink with family and friends and engaging in an active lifestyle are what the Mediterranean “diet” is all about. Known not only as one of the healthiest diets in the world, it’s also one of the tastiest and one the whole family can enjoy. Flavorful foods prepared with healthy fats, plenty of fresh produce, whole grains, and wine to drink in moderation provide a recipe for good health.
What health benefits are associated with the Mediterranean diet and what does the diet consist of?
Why Go Mediterranean?
You like your hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, and soda, so it may take a lot of convincing to change your diet. Need reasons to eat Mediterranean style? Here are a few that may convince you.
- The Mediterranean diet is clearly associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
- It can also benefit your heart by lowering your cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
- When the Mediterranean diet is combined with regular exercise and portion control it may be more successful at weight loss than following a strict, low-fat diet.
Food from Plants
What’s the Mediterranean diet look like? Here it is in a nutshell.
Plant-based foods are the backbone of the Mediterranean diet. Fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, and whole grains are eaten more than other foods. Numerous delicious spices are used in place of salt.
Fresh produce is eaten at every meal and for snacks. Full of antioxidants and fiber, a variety of fruits and veggies is vital for good health.
Nuts are a great source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. A handful of almonds or pistachios provide a quick snack. Natural nut spreads (peanut butter, almond butter, or sesame seed tahini) are used on sandwiches rather than spreads made with hydrogenated oils.
Legumes provide protein and fiber, and are eaten as the main dish, side dish, or addition to salads and soups.
Whole-grain bread, cereal, rice, and pasta are also part of the Mediterranean diet. No more foods made with white, bleached flour and empty calories. Whole-grain foods are, after all, always the best option.
The number of fat grams you eat is no longer a major concern with the Mediterranean diet. Now, your focus is the type of fat you eat. Trans fats and saturated fats are avoided and unsaturated fats are eaten in moderation.
Olive oil is the fat of choice as it helps reduce your LDL cholesterol and contains valuable antioxidants. Rather than spreading butter on your bread, dip your bread in olive oil. Drizzle olive oil or canola oil on your veggies and pasta rather than using butter. That’s right—you get to drizzle oil on your breads and pastas!
Fish, Fish, Fish
In the West, people eat a lot of red meat and processed meats like sausage, bacon, and hotdogs. Unfortunately, numerous studies have linked consumption of these kinds of meats with diseases like cancer. Due to its high amount of saturated fat, red meat is also associated with an increased risk of heart disease. With that in mind, it’s obviously smart to limit your intake of red and processed meats to a couple meals a month.
Replace these meats with fish and lean poultry, via the Mediterranean diet. Fish is a staple food in the Mediterranean diet, eaten at least twice a week. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna provide omega-3s, which benefit the heart.
Dairy products provide much-needed calcium, but can also be high in saturated fats. When you go Mediterranean, you’ll always choose low-fat varieties of milk, yogurt, and cheese.
Red, Red Wine
You know too much alcohol isn’t good for you, but when drank in moderation, red wine can be good for your heart. Enjoy a glass of wine once or twice a week to reap the full benefits offered by the Mediterranean diet.