What is a Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a famous diet that originated from traditional Mediterranean countries. This diet is characterized by consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and olive oil with a moderate consumption of proteins. A glass or two of red wine is also added.
Throughout the course of this informative article, we are going to look at the benefits of this diet, key components and a couple of meal plans that will help you get started. The truth is, this diet is very easy to maintain.
Why go the Mediterranean way with Mediterranean diet?
Choosing a diet can be a little unnerving because most people don’t really know whether it will work or not. The lack of information can also become a factor. However, the benefits of choosing a Mediterranean diet are too great to be avoided.
This diet reduces one’s risk of getting heart diseases. The healthy food keeps your heart in its optimum state. It also reduces the risk of cardiovascular deaths… as well as deaths in general. So in short, you are more likely to live longer on this diet that on any other diet.
Incidence cancer, which is on the rise, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s diseases, can also be prevented by adopting the Mediterranean diet. This is a diet that has been tried and tested over time and the results are nothing but overwhelming.
Now that we have the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, let us look at the key components to try and see whether such a healthy diet can be attained.
Major Components of the Mediterranean Diet:
Plant-based foods. This includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts.
Fruits and vegetables. These are used in place of meat and proteins. They contain large amounts of antioxidants that help the body in many ways. The good thing about fruits and vegetables is that one can have up to five servings in a day without the risk of accumulating too many calories.
Grains. On the other hand are always whole grain and have very little unhealthy fats. Whole grain bread, whole grain rice and products made of pasta are encouraged. You can also go for sprouted or fermented grains because they are easily digested and their nutrients can be digested fast.
Bread. Is eaten plain most of the time with variations occurring by dipping it into olive oil. There is no butter or margarine involved.
Nuts. Also make a good diet. This is because they are full of unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are good because they reduce heart diseases and lower cholesterol levels. Grains are however, full of calories and should not be eaten in large amounts. A handful of nuts a day is good. It would also be wise to avoid heavily salted nuts and nuts that are honey roasted.
Legumes. Are not only a good source of fiber.
Spice and herbs. Are also a good alternative for salts. There is a range of spices that can be used and the good thing about them is that they promote health.
Red meat. Can be eaten, but in very minimal quantities. The idea here is to reduce the intake of protein not get done with it completely. Protein is still important in the body.
Healthy fats. Include unsaturated fats. There is a variety of healthy fats to choose from and the Mediterranean diet does not lack a number of them.
Olive oil. This is a type of oil that can be used to reduce cholesterol levels. It is a mono-saturated fat. One tablespoon a day or five olives should do the trick. Eating an eighth of an avocado can also help.
Extra virgin oil or virgin oil. Contains compounds that are known as anti-oxidants. What antioxidants do is prevent chain reactions in the body that could damage cells. Added advantages are vitamin K and E with plenty of beneficial fatty acids.
Canola oil. Is another healthy fat that helps in decreasing the chances of your blood clotting. It helps in reducing the risk of a heart attack, enhances the health of your blood vessels and moderates your blood pressure.
Fatty fish such as salmon contain omega-3 and fatty acids. Some benefits of omega-3 include:
- Preventing the risk of coronary diseases and stroke.
- Improving general brain function such as memory.
- Lowers the risk of getting breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer.
- Lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
These are some of the major components of a Mediterranean diet. It is pretty clear that the diet is packed with a lot of benefits. Each component not only has the benefits listed, the benefits are endless. An example of omega-3 whose benefits is too much to be listed down.
Now that we have the benefits and key components, let us look at some principles. These principles will help us know what to do with each ingredient. Below, are some principles that can be followed when using this diet.
Principles to be followed:
- Highly processed foods and ready meals should be limited in consumption because they contain high amounts of salts and saturated fats.
- Dairy products should be moderated with preference into low-fat ones.
- You can use snacks as fruits, biscuits. Biscuits should be unsalted.
- Drink plenty of water as it is it the best non-alcoholic drink.
- When it comes to alcoholic beverages, a glass or two of wine is the best option. This should, however be followed as advised by your doctor.
- Potatoes can be eaten, but it should be done in small quantities. Potatoes are full of starch and high starch raises the risk of getting type 2-diabetes.
- In the event that you do not like fish, then you can substitute it with chicken meat of the same amount of calories.
- Coffee could be used as a beverage as well as tea. However, it would be wise not to go beyond three cups on either regular or caffeinated.
- On sweets and desserts, cakes and biscuits should be taken in low quantities. Sugar should also be reduced.
- Poultry, cheese, eggs and yogurt should be moderated.
- Exercise is also an integral part of a diet. 30 minutes of exercise for a grown up is always be encouraged.
Are there myths associated with this diet? Are there misconceptions, perceived truths that are associated with the Mediterranean diet?
This article will also deal with these myths.
Debunking Myths associated with the Mediterranean diet
Mediterranean diet is expensive
This type of diet is not expensive to maintain. All ingredient and components mentioned are easily accessible at very fair prices.
Some people think that just because one glass of wine is good then three is much better. High levels of alcoholic drinks are not encouraged. The reason we are taking wine is to avoid other hard drinks that have high levels of alcohol.
You are going to lose weight
Being on a specific diet does not mean you are going to lose weight. There are actual diets for weight loss. The Mediterranean diet aims at enhancing quality life. There is, however, a way to use the diet to enhance weight loss.
All vegetable oils are the same
Vegetable oils are not the same. This article has covered that in part. There are healthier oils than other.
As mentioned earlier, this diet can be used to enhance weight loss. Here is how this Mediterranean diet can be used to enhance weight loss.
Mediterranean Diet and Weight Loss:
For weight loss, go for foods with low calories. The least the better so that the body can turn on the fat accumulated for energy. Exercising on a regular basis is also a great way to lose weight.
There are certain types of food that can be used to achieve weight loss. This article is only going to name a few. However, one is always encouraged to do plenty of research on what food will not only allow you to lose weight but will also make sure that you do not drop your diet plan.
Foods such as fluffy pancakes can be eaten during breakfast. Remember it is very important not to miss breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It also ensures that you stay full during the day as well as give you the power you need.
This recipe can go with fat-free milk. The good thing about fluffy pancakes is that they can be refrigerated.
- Crackers and dip are a good option. Crackers can be of any flavor. You can also add a dash of vanilla extract. Fruits are also applicable.
- A pineapple smoothie can be made by combining ½ fresh orange, ½ pineapple chunks, and 6 ounces light yogurt. Blend. You can add ice cubes as well.
- Chickpea spread. This can be eaten along with a cup of broccoli flowerets and pepper for dip.
- You can also have a Yoplait Nouriche smoothie.
- Chickpea salad could be used.
- Green salad which can easily go with a pizza (low calories).
- Basil shrimp summer salad.
Make sure to make a vegetarian meal every once in awhile. Once in a week would be a great start. A vegetarian pita sandwich with Greek cucumber is recommended. There are other vegetarian meals out there as well.
Chicken Kabobs are good as well. They are also relatively low on calories.
A Mozzarella sandwich is good because it is low on calories. Turkey and Artichoke sandwich too.
In the event that one can not drop margarine all together, Trans-free-fat- margarine is recommended.
Vinegar, as mentioned before is largely used in meals.
These are just but a few meals that could be used when trying to lose weight under the Mediterranean diet. A little research will help you determine what works for you and therefore help you maintain a healthy diet.
The Mediterranean diet is not only a simple way of meeting your dietary needs, but it is also a fun and safe way to ensure that you live a healthy and long life. You can never go wrong if you decided to try the Mediterranean diet.