Mediterranean dietinvolves a style of eating; what is the Mediterranean diet? It’s based on Southern Mediterranean region such as Italy, Greece and Spain. It incorporates the basics of healthy eating. The main ingredients of this type of diet are fruits, vegetables, grains, cereals, olive oil, dairy products and wine in low to moderate amount. Mediterranean diet has been known for offering numerous health benefits. Daily exercises such as walking, running, tennis, swimming, basketball, golf, football, basketball, yard work, weightlifting, dancing, and scuba diving are recommended along with Mediterranean diet.
Components of Mediterranean Diet:
Mediterranean diet is considered as a fresh healthy diet. Main parts of this diet are fresh vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts, whole grains, legumes, yogurt, seafood, small amount of wine and Olive oil. The main key components of Mediterranean diet are;
- A plentiful food from plant sources such as vegetables, potatoes, fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, beans and breads.
- Emphasis on minimally processed, locally grown, and seasonally fresh foods that consist of the maximum quantity of antioxidants and health promoting micronutrients.
- Olive oil is the principal fat in Mediterranean diet. Other fats including margarine and butter are avoided.
- This diet includes total fat ranging from less than 25% to 35% of energy, with saturated fat not more than 7-8% of calories.
- Daily consumption of low to moderate quantity of yogurt and cheese.
- Weekly consumption of low to moderate amounts of poultry and fish. Fish is more preferred than poultry.
- Fresh fruits as daily desserts. Saturated fats and sweets with a significant amount of sugar should be consumed a few times per week.
- Red meat should be consumed a few times per month.
- Moderate consumption of wine, generally with meals, 1-2 glasses per day for men, and 1 glass per day for women is recommended.
Common Foods in Mediterranean Diet:
Some of the common foods of Mediterranean diet are fruits such as avocados, olives and grapes, rice, pasta, bread, polenta, couscous, potatoes and fresh vegetables such as eggplant, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, garlic, pepper, mushrooms, capers and beans. Mediterranean diet also includes nuts and legumes such as walnuts, almonds, white beans, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts and other beans. Its other common ingredients are olive oil, yogurt, cheese, fish such as sardines, shellfish, poultry including eggs and chicken, meat such as lamb and veal. Some sweets such as ice cream, pastries and cookies are also allowed in Mediterranean diet.
Health Benefits of Mediterranean Diet:
Mediterranean diet has health boosting qualities; People who follow the Mediterranean diet experience a remarkable decrease in body weight, blood fats, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. Eating the Mediterranean style of foods also protects the brain. People following this type of diet are at a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This diet reduces the risk of heart disease. Mediterranean diet includes some healthy fats such as mono unsaturated fats (olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats consist of linolenic acid, which is a type of essential omega 3 fatty acids. They lower the levels of triglycerides and improve the health of blood vessels. Fruits and vegetables included in Mediterranean diet provide vitamins and minerals, fibers, antioxidants and other essential nutrients. The antioxidants in fruits help to fight against different cancers. What are the Mediterranean diet and the inclusion of red wine? It is considered a factor contributing to health as it contains flavonoids with powerful antioxidant properties. As this diet is high in salt content
Mediterranean Diet Foods to Eat:
The Mediterranean diet takes on a distinctive diet by the natives of the Mediterranean region and applies those principles to gain the benefits of low saturated fats and high antioxidants from the food. As for any diet program or structure, there is a food pyramid created that illustrates the general idea of the diet in detail. The pyramid, for the Mediterranean diet, would consist of high quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables which are followed by lots of proteins and whole grains. Despite having high amounts of fat in the diet, the source comes from monounsaturated fats that are adept for both heart and body. The lists of Mediterranean diet foods are helpful because the foods have gone through very little processing and are mostly fresh. Also, instead of using only salt to season, the foods need lots of herbs and spices as well.
Help promote longevity by integrating Mediterranean diet food plan to lower heart diseases. In addition to that, the diet is not only consisted of delicious foods to eat, but is also easy to follow. All you have to do is make small adjustments and substitutions to your regular eating habits; such as, instead of eating too much of red meat, substitute it with chicken and fish. Now this doesn't mean you quit eating red meat. Get leaner cuts of red meat and cook it in olive or canola oil (instead of butter). Below the food list will help you to understand this diet more easily;
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables:
Fruits and vegetables fall in the bottom of the Mediterranean diet food list pyramid where the intake is high. Types of vegetables included in this category are eggplant, celery, sweet potatoes, peppers broccoli, spinach, onions, peas, artichokes, lettuce, mushrooms, carrots and chickpeas (legumes). Substitute juicy fruits for sweets and desserts, such as grapes, cherries, grapefruit, melons, berries, dates, apples, berries, avocados, peaches and tomatoes.
Nuts and Seeds:
Nuts and seeds are also included in Mediterranean diet like, sunflower seeds, walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds and pistachios; however nuts those are high in fats should be avoided.
Low to moderate amounts of dairy foods are allowed on the Mediterranean diet, such as milk yogurt and cheese, however low fat options should be preferred as compare to full fat dairy.
Mediterranean dietfood pyramid shows bread, pastas and other whole grain foods, at the base. Whole grains such as oats and barley have abundant fiber and helps you keep feeling full longer. Since whole grains are not processed they retain more of their nutrition.
Poultry and Fish:
Substituting red meat with fish and chicken is always the number one recommendation for Mediterranean diet. You can also have a total of 7 eggs in a week’s time. Fish and seafood like salmon, tuna, mackerel, anchovies, shrimp, crab, sardines, and albacore are good food sources of omega 3 essential fatty acids, which is good for over all heart health. For poultry, use chicken and turkey without skin.
To strictly follow the Mediterranean diet, you have to cut off all the unnecessary fats and use olive oil, canola oil and avocado oil extensively. As a principle source of fat, olive oil has to be used for all kinds of food preparations, bread, pasta, salad dressings and stir-fry vegetables.
One glass of red wine everyday with the meal or main course is recommended. Also drink 6-8 glasses of water to keep your body well hydrated.
Foods to Avoid:
- Sausage and bacons.
- Margarine and butter.
- High fat dairy.
- Red meat.
- Limited egg intake
- Foods and food products made from refined flour.
- Processed or canned food products.