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Nutrition » Diets » Mediterranean » The Mediterranean Diet: Benefits, Facts and Tips 

The Mediterranean Diet: Benefits, Facts and Tips 

the mediterranean diet

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

To begin with, it is impossible to find an exact explanation of what the Mediterranean Diet is. It is a great mix of plant-based meals, fish, grains, lifestyle and recipes from Mediterranean Sea countries. This diet is rich in proteins, healthy fats and fiber. However, it has a low amount of saturated fats, sugar, dairy products and meat. That is why it is a wonderful balanced nutrition plan.

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Health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

This diet is flexible, delicious and easy to follow. For the most part it consists of fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs. Also, it is common to use olive oil instead of butter, whole grain bread and pasta. And it is popular to have a glass of good red wine with your family and friends during dinner. The Mediterranean food plan can affect your physical and mental well-being.It is associated with decreased risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases (5, 7, 10).

I want to start! What should I do first?

If you feel that this diet fits the bill, here are some tips that will take the edge off transitioning into your new lifestyle and eating patterns: 

  •        add more vegetables to your daily meals
  •        don’t forget to eat breakfast!
  •        eat seafood at least twice a week
  •        reduce the amount of milk products
  •        use olive oil instead of butter
  •        replace sweets and bakery with fruits
  •        share food with others, organize family dinners

Taking care of your physical and mental well-being is an important part of the Mediterranean diet as it is a part of Mediterranean countries’ culture! Therefore it is a good time to start following their example and invite your friends to cook together.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

What is the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid?

The idea of a true Mediterranean food plan is mostly about the social side of a diet. For instance, there’s no need to gobble your food down or eat it on the go. Mediterranean philosophy encourages people to gather together and concentrate on enjoying your meal. It keeps you away from feeling overwhelmed, helps you de-stress and unwind. As a result of more conscious food consumption, it can help prevent overeating.

  • Plant-based. These include fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and herbs. Also, it contains cereals, whole-grain bread and pasta.
  • Unsaturated fats. The primary fat sources should also be plant-based, such as olive oil, olives, seeds, nuts and avocados (or their oils).
  • Seafood plays a major role, too. Usually, people from Mediterranean countries eat more fish rather than meat.
  • Dairy products in moderate amounts are a part of the plan. It is usually fermented dairy products like yogurt or cheese.
  • Poultry and eggs are included in moderate amounts.
  • It’s okay to eat sweets occasionally, however, it would be better to opt for fresh fruit as a dessert to satisfy a sweet craving.
  • Drinking enough water is crucial.
  • Also, you can drink a glass of wine during your meal, especially red wine.

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What is the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid?

Mediterranean Diet snacks ideas

  • Nuts. They are rich in protein, antioxidants, fiber, and Omega-3. Additionally, in couple with some dried fruits, they become a sweet and healthy alternative for chocolate bars!
  • Fruits and vegetables. They are a fundamental source of fiber needed for our body.
  • Legumes. If you are bored of eating beans, then cook hummus! Serve it with carrots and whole-grain toast.
  • Greek yogurt. A small portion of Greek yogurt with berries or fruits will provide you high quality protein with Calcium, vitamin B-12, and probiotics.

Do’s and don’ts

So, during the Mediterranean diet, you do eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, legumes, herbs, seafood, and use olive oil to cook food. The main beverages are simple water and a little bit of wine. However, there is no reason to push yourself to drink wine if you do not like it.

Moreover, there is no food that you are not able to consume. This diet encourages you to limit milk products, red meat, added sugar and saturated fat.

Can I be on this diet long term?

So many misguided notions pop into people’s minds when they hear the word “diet”. They automatically decide that it involves a strict food plan and even some kind of starvation! Mediterranean diet is a plant-based eating pattern, which combines healthy food with physical activity and social life. So, basically, it is a balance of food consumption, your physical and social well-being.  All these factors make it a long-term healthy lifestyle.

“Mediterranean Diet ranked #1 in Best Diets Overall by U.S. News. 35 diets were evaluated with input from a panel of health experts” (4).

FAQs

Is it expensive?

Many people believe that healthy food is expensive. However, it is not always the case. You can be on a diet and on a budget! For example, you might have to cut back on meat consumption and up your protein intake by incorporating more fish into your diet. It might be less expensive depending on where you live. Also, you can buy veggies and fruits at a market instead of overpaying for the same options at supermarkets or local shops. Mediterranean food is extremely filling. You won’t have pangs of hunger throughout the day and there will be no need to splurge money on snacks in order to curb your appetite.

Can I lose weight on the Mediterranean Diet?

This diet contains a lot of plant-based and fiber-rich food options. Also, it loweres the amount of processed food and added sugar, which contain a big amount of calories. Additionally, this diet encourages physical activities. That is why it is possible not only to lose weight but maintain it as well.

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Can people with diabetes use it?

The Mediterranean diet encourages you to eat a lot of veggies and fruits, which contain fiber. So, fiber helps prevent blood sugar fluctuations and may improve cholesterol levels (1). Overall, the diet itself is about reducing the amount of added sugar in homemade dishes. This is beneficial and necessary for people who are suffering from diabetes.

As taking care of you physical well-being is a part of the Mediterranean lifestyle, make sure to involve some physical exercise on your plan, according to your physician’s recommendations and your personal fitness goals. Try out the 20 Minute Full Body Workout at Home from the video below.

DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

    1. A journey into a Mediterranean diet and type 2 diabetes: a systematic review with meta-analyses (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
    2. Best Mediterranean Diet Snacks (2019, themediterraneandish.com)
    3. Mediterranean Diet (2018, oldwayspt.org)
    4. Mediterranean Diet (2019, health.usnews.com)
    5. Mediterranean diet adherence is related to reduced probability of prodromal Parkinson’s disease (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
    6. Mediterranean diet: A heart-healthy eating plan (2019, mayoclinic.org)
    7. Role of Mediterranean diet on the prevention of Alzheimer disease (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
    8. The Mediterranean Diet (2019, helpguide.org)
    9. The Mediterranean Diet (2019, webmd.com)
    10. The Mediterranean Diet and Cardiovascular Health (2019, ahajournals.org)
Olivia Johnson

Olivia Johnson

Olivia is a passionate writer and a whip-smart proofreader who takes pride in her ability to turn hard-to-digest information into an enjoyable read. She is a book worm, a life of the party, a meditation and fitness enthusiast, and a champion for healthy living all in one. Dissecting dietary fads, debunking long-established weight loss myths and delivering science-backed quality content is her top priority. When working on a piece, Olivia tunes into her own experience of trial-and-error weight loss which helps her cut through the clutter when doing extensive research. Her unbridled enthusiasm spills over into her work and motivates readers to chase after their full potential.

Kristen Fleming

Kristen Fleming

I am a U.S. educated and trained Registered Dietitian (MS, RD, CNSC) with clinical and international development experience. I have experience conducting systematic reviews and evaluating the scientific literature both as a graduate student and later to inform my own evidence-based practice as an RD. I am currently based in Lusaka, Zambia after my Peace Corps service was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic and looking for some meaningful work to do as I figure out next steps. This would be my first freelance project, but I am a diligent worker and quite used to independent and self-motivated work.

Kristen Fleming, MS, RD, CNSC

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