The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet reﬂects a way of eating that is traditional in the countries that surround the Mediterranean (these include Greece, Italy and Spain), but you don’t need to travel any further than your local supermarket to discover its delicious flavours and fresh food. This diet is based on healthy whole foods and includes very few processed foods.
HOW IT WORKS
The Mediterranean diet is a primarily plant-based eating plan that includes daily intake of whole grains, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, beans and other legumes, nuts, herbs, and spices. Other foods like animal proteins are eaten in smaller quantities, with the preferred animal protein being fish and seafood.
THE MEDITERRANEAN PYRAMID
This food pyramid shows the foods and drinks in a Mediterranean-style diet. At the base of the pyramid are foods to eat the most. At the top are foods to eat in small amounts or less often
Although the pyramid shape suggests the proportion of foods to eat (e.g., eat more fruits and vegetables and less dairy foods), it does not specify portion sizes or specific amounts. It is up to the individual to decide exactly how much food to eat at each meal, as this will vary by physical activity, body size or dietitians recommendations.
ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS OF THIS DIET
- An emphasis on healthy fats. Olive oil is recommended as the primary added fat, replacing other oils and fats (butter, margarine). Other foods naturally containing healthful fats are highlighted, such as avocados, nuts, and oily fish like salmon and sardines; among these, walnuts and fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Choosing fish as the preferred animal protein at least twice weekly and other animal proteins of poultry, eggs, and dairy (cheese or yoghurt) in smaller portions either daily or a few times a week. Red meat is limited to a few times per month.
- Choosing water as the main daily beverage, but allowing a moderate intake of wine with meals, about one to two glasses a day for men and one glass a day for women
BENEFITS OF THIS DIET
The Mediterranean-style diet is healthy because:
• it has a good balance of healthy fats
• it is high in fresh foods and has lower levels of highly processed foods
• It is high in fibre. This makes the diet filling without providing excess calories
• It is high in antioxidants and can reduce inflammation in the body
These benefits are related to following a Mediterranean-style eating pattern as a whole, not from single foods or nutrients.
MEDITERRANEAN DIET and HEART HEALTH
Research has consistently shown that the Mediterranean diet is effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and overall mortality. The traditional Mediterranean diet naturally includes most of the key diet changes that will help to keep your heart healthy. For example;
- emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes;
- includes low-fat or fat-free dairy products, fish, poultry, non-tropical vegetable oils and nuts; and
- limits added sugars, sugary beverages, sodium, highly processed foods, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and fatty or processed meats.
One interesting finding of this eating plan is that it dispels the myth that people with or at risk for heart disease must eat a low fat diet. One of the better-known aspects is the use of monounsaturated fats such as olive oil instead of saturated fats such as butter.
Also, instead of relying on meat only, make sure that you get a variety of protein options through having more fish in your diet as well as beans and pulses.
Exercise is required on the Mediterranean diet, but it doesn’t have to feel like exercise. It could be a brisk walk around your house or dancing.
Adults are generally encouraged to get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity activity each week, along with a couple days of muscle-strengthening activities.
I hope you have learnt from today’s blog. Don’t forget to share this post so others can benefit from it and also follow us on all our social media pages.