I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I absolutely love eating the Mediterranean way. It’s not just because I come from that part of the world, but it really has to do with it being the most balanced way of eating.
The Mediterranean diet is a diet that is based on traditional foods people used to eat in Mediterranean countries like Italy and Greece. Researchers say that people on Mediterranean diet were much healthier compared to people who ate a western diet and had lower risk of many deadly diseases. Numerous studies show that the Mediterranean diet can help with weight loss, prevention of heart attacks and strokes, type 2 diabetes, and premature death.
The basics of the Mediterranean diet include:
· Eat most often: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil.
· Eat in moderation: Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt.
· Limit consumption: Red meat
· Avoid eating: Sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods.
Here are some foods of the Mediterranean diet that you should try:
· Vegetables: Tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, etc.
· Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches, etc.
· Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, Macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and more.
· Legumes: Beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas, etc.
· Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, yams, etc.
· Whole Grains: Whole oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat, whole grain bread and pasta.
· Fish and Seafood: Salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels, etc.
· Poultry: Chicken, duck, turkey and more
· Eggs: Chicken, quail and duck eggs.
· Dairy: Cheese, yogurt, Greek yogurt, etc.
· Herbs and Spices: Garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, etc.
· Healthy Fats: Extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, and avocado oil.
What to drink:
· Water. Water should be your go-to beverage on a Mediterranean diet.
· Red wine. Red wine should only be consumed in moderation, around 1 glass per day. However, if you struggle with alcoholism or problems controlling consumption, you should obviously avoid this.
· Coffee and tea
· Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juices as these are very high in sugar.
When eating out at restaurants, aim to eat some type of fish or seafood as your main dish. You should also request to have your food cooked without any ingredients high in sodium or fat (extra virgin olive oil is a good alternative), and when the bread comes around, stick to eating whole grain or whole wheat bread instead of white bread. And make sure to skip the butter and use olive oil instead.
The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been cited over and over again. Hailing from the traditional dietary patterns of residents along the Mediterranean coast, the main staples of the diet include nuts, whole grains, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, unrefined cereals, lots of legumes, just as much fish, some cheese and yogurt and occasional consumption of wine. The cornerstone of this diet is its limit in the consumption of red meat to only a few times a month.
Individually, most of the elements of the Mediterranean diet are heart-healthy. The diet as a whole has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of cardiovascular mortality, the incidence of cancer mortality and may reduce the incidence of neurologic diseases like dementia and Parkinson’s. For this reason, the Mediterranean diet is championed by most, if not all major scientific institutions, not only as a diet, but a lifestyle change to prevent major life-shortening chronic diseases.
WHY FOLLOW MEDITERRANEAN DIET?
Now there is one more reason to follow this diet plan, and that’s environmental impact. A recent study established that the menu traditionally eaten in Spain has less of a carbon footprint than that of English speaking countries like the United States or the United Kingdom. A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide (or equivalent pollutant gas) contributing to global warming.
This Spanish study analyzed the carbon footprint of typical menus in Spain, following a Mediterranean diet, and compared them to daily fare consumed in the UK and the US. What researchers found was that the Spanish Mediterranean diet had a smaller carbon footprint than English speaking countries due to lower beef consumption. Beef, it has been found, has a relatively larger carbon footprint than fruits and vegetables which make up much of the Mediterranean diet. So not only is eating like a Mediterranean native more healthy, but also more environmentally friendly.
Mediterraneans love their Red wine and you should too
Red wine has long been thought to be good for heart health. Believe it or not, the alcohol and certain substances in red wine called antioxidants may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and protecting against artery damage. One might ask, "How does alcohol help the heart?" Studies have shown that moderate amounts of all types of alcohol benefit your heart because it raises HDL and reduces the formation of blood clots.
Red wine contains antioxidants that help prevent heart disease, protecting arteries and blood vessels. Red wine contains resveratrol, which may activate genes that slow cellular aging.
Here are 12 other amazing health benefits from drinking red wine:
1. Your heart will be healthier.
2. You will lower the bad cholesterol (LDL).
3. You'll reduce your risk of certain common cancers.
4. It'll help you with weight loss.
5. Your dental hygiene will improve.
6. Regulation of your blood sugar will improve.
7. Your bone density will increase.
8. You'll digestion will improve.
9. You'll fight age-related memory loss.
10. You'll lower your risk of getting the common cold.
11. Your skin will glow more.
12. It'll help you you to relieve stress.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF WINE
· Red wine is high in antioxidants
· May prevent cancer (colon, breast)
· May reduce depression over time
· May prevent dementia
· Improves lung function