It’s a way of life.
The diet and lifestyle of those who reside along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea have received much attention the past few years. The rest of the world has taken note of the benefits of what is known as one of the healthiest diets out there: the Mediterranean diet. Benefits include a longer life expectancy and less chance of developing a number of chronic diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Sound good? Here are the basics of the Mediterranean diet and ways to make it part of your life.
Good Taste = Good Health
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes plant foods, healthy fats, herbs and spices, fish, poultry, and red wine in moderation. The eating habits of this area of the world are just a way of life not a strict, restrictive diet. A variety of healthy foods are enjoyed and eaten leisurely, often with family and friends. And plenty of physical activity is built into one’s lifestyle, not forced.
Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains are all plant-based foods. It should be no surprise to you that these foods are the base of a healthy diet. After all, the majority of any diet should be comprised of plant-based foods.
The Mediterranean diet recommends 7 to 10 daily servings of fruits and veggies. Unprocessed, whole -grain foods are also emphasized. Pastas, rice, and breads are staples.
It’s not often that you hear about fat being part of a heart-healthy diet. But those in the Mediterranean region have taught the world the benefits of healthy fats. Just remember that some fats are okay and others aren’t. Saturated fats and trans fats (hydrogenated oil) are not on the okay list, as they lead to heart disease. When it comes to good fats, think of olive oil. Olive oil is made of monounsaturated fat. This type of fat helps reduce your low-density lipoprotein LDL (bad) cholesterol. The “virgin” or “extra-virgin” olive oils are the least processed types and contain the most antioxidants, which help fight against a variety of cancers.
Canola oil and nuts are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that contain omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna also contain omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids improve the health of your heart by lowering triglycerides, improving blood vessel health, moderating blood pressure, and lowering your risk of heart attack. Olive oil, nuts, and fish are eaten regularly in a Mediterranean diet.
Another component of the Mediterranean diet is red wine. Excessive alcohol can cause a host of health problems, but in moderate amounts (less than 5 ounces a day for women and under 10 ounces a day for men) have been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease.
Incorporating the Principles
The benefits of the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle can’t be ignored. Maybe you’re borderline diabetic or perhaps you’re at risk for heart disease. Adopting aspects of this diet may be the solution to better health. One place to start is to increase the number of servings of fruits and veggies to your diet. Another diet improvement you can make is to switch to whole grain pastas, breads, rice, and cereal. Don’t even buy processed foods. For sandwiches or bread toppings, use natural peanut butter instead of regular peanut butter that’s made with hydrogenated fats. Instead of using butter made with saturated or trans fat, dip bread in olive oil.
Additionally, you can reduce the number of servings of red meat your family consumes to only a couple each month. Replace red meat meals with fish, poultry, or meatless meals. Avoid high-fat meats such as bacon and sausage, use spices and herbs to season food instead of salt, switch to low-fat dairy products, and invite friends over to enjoy a glass of red wine.
Combining these foods with regular exercise and a low-stress lifestyle, and you’ve got the Mediterranean diet. Sound like something you could get into? Get to it!
If you live in the Gilbert area, treat yourself right by calling or emailing today to get started on an exercise program that will change your life for the best.
Proper nutrition plays a key role in your journey to a healthy lifestyle and to meet your fitness goals. Planning a well balanced diet can be extremely overwhelming and time consuming. That is why I have teamed up with Personal Trainer Food to help make it easy for you. Click here for more information and when prompted, please type Trainer ID# 8170. When you are ready, you may click here to place your order. The quality of the food is second to none.