The Mediterranean Diet
Originated from the healthy eating habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, the Greek, Italian, Spanish and French Mediterranean Diet is considered to be the world’s healthiest
People around the Mediterranean love to eat and know that eating well brings happiness. Quality goes clearly over quantity. No wonder that the lowest worldwide rate of obesity, heart disease and alcoholism are found here. The Mediterranean diet is loaded with healthy foods, it is high in fiber and antioxidants and far greater than the typical Western diets packed with sugar and refined grains, and low in saturated fat. Traditional meals include a high proportion of olive oil, fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, fresh fish, dairy products like yogurt and cheese, topped off with a moderate consumption of wine. The main health-promoting component of the diet may be olive oil.
Ancel Keys discovered the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet in the 1950’s. While studying the health of poor populations in Southern Italy he found the Italians had lower levels of cholesterol and a low rate of coronary heart disease. The concept of a Mediterranean Diet was developed to reflect "food patterns typical of Crete, greater parts of Greece and southern Italy in the early 1960s". It failed to gain widespread recognition until it became popular in the 1990s and was added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of Italy, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Greece, Cyprus, and by UNESCO in 2013.
Keys lived to be 100 years old and died in November 2004, two months before his 101st birthday.
The base of the pyramid is made up of foods like whole grain bread, cereals, pasta, potatoes, rice and couscous. Fruits, legumes, nuts, and vegetables make up another large share of your daily diet, along with smaller amounts of cheese, yogurt, and olive oil. Poultry, fish and seafood, eggs and yoghurt are eaten weekly. The Mediterranean Pyramid even allows one sweet treat every week. Red meats are eaten about once per month.
How to start the Mediterranean Diet?
Switching from a typical western diet to a Mediterranean diet seems difficult if you're not used to olive oil, fish and some of the vegetables and seasonings often associated with this region. But it's quite delicious and well worth the change!
Replace butter with healthy olive oil.
Replace salt with herbs and spices to flavour foods.
Eat seasonally and buy fresh from the market.
Eat lots of vegetables. Many people in the Mediterranean eat a pound of vegetables every day. Green and colorful vegetables are low in calories and high in antioxidants.
Enjoy fresh fruits as dessert. Avoid sugary pastries, cakes, and cookies. Fruit is lower in calories and high in fiber and nutrients.
Eat more fish. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids that are good for your heart and your brain. Plus, fish is low in total fat and calories.
Poultry and eggs are also acceptable protein sources. Bake or broil your fish or chicken, don't deep fry it.
Reduce red meat consumption. Red meat has a lot of saturated fat that's not good for your heart, so there isn't much room for steaks and hamburgers in this diet (only about one meal per month).
Avoid breaded and deep fried foods.
Discover legumes and nuts. Legumes are good source of healthy fats, fiber, protein, and nutrients and can be used in many main dishes.
Avoid refined grain product and added sugar.
Eat Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and cashews daily. They make a delicious and healthy snack.
Yogurt and cheese are sources of calcium and should be eaten regularly but in moderation. Calcium is important for bones and heart health. Try a greek salad with tomatoes and feta cheese.
Drink at least six glasses of water every day. It is necessary for proper hydration and helps with the wellbeing and energy levels.
Wine is consumed regularly but in moderation in the Mediterranean. Up to one glass for woman and two glasses for men daily.
Stay physically active and enjoy your meals with friends, family and people who make you smile!.
The benefits are enormous!
The Mediterranean Diet is grounded on the principles of enjoyment and pleasure with enormous benefits. It is a great way to lose weight and improve overall health of an individual. The food provides plenty of micronutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber that work together to protect against chronic diseases.
Reduced risk of depression
Improved weight loss
Reduced levels of inflammation
Prevents Parkinson's and Alzheimer’s disease
Reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
Reduced risk of cancer
Prevents premature death
These are enough reasons to start today. What are you waiting for? It's definitely worth a try!