Mediterranean Diet – a diet which provides you energy and protects your body against chronic diseases
The Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy eating plan which combines the delicious elements of Mediterranean cooking. During this diet, you can eat the traditional foods of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean Diet is more than a diet – is a lifestyle, which allows you to lose weight or improve your health. In 1993, this diet has been officially recognized by Oldways, a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization from Boston, as one of the world’s healthiest.
Like any other healthy diet, it is based on vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, olives, and olive oil along with some cheese, yogurt, fish, poultry, eggs, and wine. These foods provide balanced macronutrients and thousands of micronutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber that work together to provide energy and protect the body against chronic disease.
The Mediterranean diet encourages the consumption of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Usually, the cooking recipes are simple and tend to keep the ingredients as closer as possible to their natural state. Foods are rarely deep-fried in the Mediterranean cuisine.
If you want to enjoy the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, here’s what you should do:
- Limit the red meat consumption. Take your protein mostly from beans, nuts, fish and other plants – these foods are not only a source of protein, but they will add to your diet valuable fiber and antioxidants, lowering the saturated fat intake in the same time. In Mediterranean cuisine, the stuffing is the main dish, and the meat is the flavor.
- Eat lots of vegetables and fruits – People eating in the Mediterranean style have up to 9 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day.
- Use olive oil and other plant based oil, like canola and walnut oil for cooking – The olive oil is Mediterranean people’s favorite, because it is full of healthy components, like monounsaturated fats and disease-fighting antioxidants. The best olive oil is cold-pressed extra virgin.
- Enjoy starchy carbohydrates. Whole grains are the best option because they are also high in fiber. Potatoes and polenta, which is made from corn meal, are also commonly used as starches in the Mediterranean diet.
- Eat fish. Fish is low in total fat and low in calories and it contains omega-3 fatty acids that are good for your heart and your brain. It is recommended to serve fish once or twice a week. Bake, boil, broil, or grille your food, don’t deep fry it. Breaded and deep fried foods don’t fit into this diet. Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods.
- Add cheese and yogurt to your diet. They are excellent sources of calcium.
- Drink water and wine. The Mediterranean pyramid includes six glasses of water every day and a glass or two of red wine.
Benefits of the Mediterranean diet
- The traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease, the incidence of cancer and cancer mortality, the incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
- The Mediterranean diet has been associated with a lower level of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the “bad” cholesterol that’s more likely to build up deposits in your arteries.
- Certain fruits and vegetables included by the Mediterranean diet have a high antioxidant and vitamin content (vitamin D, vitamin K, folates and β-caroten) which increases the bone mineral density.
- The Mediterranean Diet contains anti-inflammatory foods to develop a stronger immune system.
- Changing your eating style, you can slowly lose weight.
- The Mediterranean diet encourages the physical exercise.
- People who adhere to the principles of the traditional Mediterranean Diet tend to live longer.