The term “Mediterranean Diet” refers to foods that have been traditionally associated with people that live near the Mediterranean Sea.
Although there are several different countries located around the Mediterranean, research has shown that the traditional diet contains many foods that may lead to a healthier lifestyle.
The Mediterranean diet incorporates the fundamental concepts to healthy eating.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the Mediterranean diet is a heart healthy option that can improve the quality of life for many people.
Food consumed in this part of the world are made up of vegetables, grains, seafood, nuts and olive oil; people in this region also typically eat less red meat, dairy, sugar and refined flour.
A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and seafood can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, by reducing LDL cholesterol.
The Mediterranean diet is high in antioxidants, which naturally combat LDL cholesterol, which can lead to clogged arteries and heart disease.
The Mayo Clinic conducted a study that analyzed over 1.5 million people that were following the Mediterranean diet meal plan. This study revealed that people following this diet had a reduced risk of death from heart disease, lower cancer rates, as well as less incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
According to a 2003 New England Journal of Medicine study, the Mediterranean diet helped to prevent obesity and type II diabetes.
The Journal of Nutrition and Wellness advised that the traditional Mediterranean diet is associated with longer life spans in people.
Fish is an excellent source of protein and is also high in healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats help lower triglycerides, decrease blood clots, and help to lower the risk of heart attack. Examples of fish consumed in the Mediterranean diet are salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, sardines and herring.
Fruit provides nutrients that are important for healthy maintenance of your body. Fruits often contain fiber, which assists the digestive system and helps to prevent colon and rectal cancer.
Fruit is also rich in potassium, which helps reduce the risk of developing kidney stones, and can assist in maintaining healthy, strong bones.
Nuts are another excellent source of healthy fats. Examples of nuts consumed in the Mediterranean diet are almonds, pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts.
Caution – due to the fact that nuts are high in calories, they should be consumed in moderation.
Vegetables help to lower the risk of chronic disease. Eating a diet rich in vegetables also helps to reduce the risk of certain types of cancers. Vegetables are also low in fat and calories, while at the same time rich in vitamins.
Grains that are consumed in the Mediterranean region of the world are usually whole grains. These types of grains have very little unhealthy trans fats in them. Whole grains can also add essential fiber and vitamins to your diet.
Throughout the Mediterranean region, bread is frequently dipped into olive oil, instead of margarine or butter. While butter contains unhealthy trans fats, olive oil provides mono saturated fat. This type of fat can assist in lowering unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels.
Olive oil can also be an effective source of omega-3 fatty acids. Extra virgin olive oil contains the highest amount of healthy nutrients.
Alcohol in moderation has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. The Mediterranean diet plan includes a moderate amount of wine during some of the meals.
Red wine also contains antioxidants that act as a blood thinner. These healthy antioxidants help decrease the chances of developing blood clots.
A Few Considerations
Lack of Iron
The low amounts of red meat that is consumed in the Mediterranean diet could be a problem for people who lack iron. Decreased meat consumption can be supplemented by eating spinach, beans and lentils. These foods can be a valuable source of iron.
Lack of Calcium
Proponents of the Mediterranean diet typically consume low amounts of dairy products. This could possibly have the undesired consequence of the lack of calcium in your diet. If you’re considering a Mediterranean diet, you may want to talk to your doctor or dietitian about calcium supplements.
Scientific research has proven that the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of several chronic diseases. For this reason alone, this diet can be a healthy choice for many people.
This diet is also simple no-nonsense approach to healthy eating. Any diet that can boast to reduce chronic illness, help you lose weight and live longer is certainly worth taking a look at.