Mediterranean diet is a healthy, well-balanced diet plan based on standard recipes and foods of Mediterranean-style cooking. So, if you’re searching for healthy eating plan – this diet might be ideal for you.
The Mediterranean diet integrates the basics of healthy eating — along with a splash of extra-virgin olive oil and maybe a glass of red wine — among some other components describing the traditional cooking style of countries nearby the Mediterranean Sea.
Most well-balanced diets include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fish, as well as limit unhealthy fats. But, these parts of a healthy eating plan are tried-and-true, delicate variations or changes in proportions of some foods can make a huge difference in your risk of heart disease.
Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
Experts claim that the classic Mediterranean diet can drastically reduce the risk of heart disease. The diet has been linked with a lower level of “bad” cholesterol (that is more likely to build up deposits in the arteries).
Actually, a meta-analysis of about 1.5 million healthy people demonstrated that leading a Mediterranean eating plan was associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and overall mortality.
This diet is also associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and different types of cancer. Women who follow this diet supplemented with mixed nuts and extra-virgin olive oil have a reduced risk of breast cancer.
These are the reasons why many great scientific organizations are encouraging people to adopt a Mediterranean-style of eating in order to prevent major chronic diseases.
Main Components of the Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet puts emphasis on:
- Consuming principally plant-based foods, such as colorful vegetables and fruits, nuts, legumes, and whole grains;
- Substituting butter with healthy fats as canola oil and olive oil;
- Using spices and herbs instead of salt to flavor meals;
- Limiting red meat to a few times per month;
- Eating poultry and fish at least 2 times a week;
- Enjoying eating with family and friends, and
- Getting some exercise, walking, or jogging.
Tips for Getting Started
The Mediterranean eating plan is a tasty and healthy way to eat. Most people who switch to this type of eating say they will never eat any other way. So, here are some specific tips to get you started:
- Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables – and Turn to Whole grains
Strive for 7-10 servings per day of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Start eating cereal and whole-grain bread, and eat more pasta and whole-grain rice.
Keep pistachios, cashews, walnuts, and almonds on hand for a fast snack. Consume natural peanut butter, try tahini (blended sesame seed) spread for bread or as a dip.
- Replace the Butter with Olive or Canola Oil
Use more canola or extra-virgin olive oil as a healthy alternative for margarine or butter. You can dip bread in olive oil or spread in on whole-grain bread for a delicious substitute to butter. Tahini can be also a delicious healthy alternative.
- Spice it Up!
Spices and Herbs give food a special flavor and are rich in health-promoting components, as well. Season your food with spices and herbs instead of salt.
- Eat More Fish
Opt for fish 1-2 times a week. Water-packed or fresh tuna, trout, salmon, herring, and mackerel are healthy choices. Avoid fried fish – unless it is sautéed in a small amount of olive or canola oil.
- Avoid Red Meat
Substitute poultry and fish for red meat. When you eat red meat – ensure it is lean and eat in small portions. Also try to avoid bacon, sausage, and some other high-fat meats.
- Choose Low-fat Dairy
Limit fat dairy products as the whole of 2% cheese, ice cream, and milk. Replace them with fat-free yogurt, low-fat cheese (we recommend Feta cheese – find more about the health benefits of this cheese: http://yourhealthtube.com/feta-cheese-healthiest-weight-loss/), and skim milk.
- Enjoy Seasonal Fruits for Dessert
Seasonal fruits are not that expensive and are also a great way to lead a healthy Mediterranean eating plan. Fruits are also a fantastic way to indulge your sweet tooth.
- Raise a Glass to Healthy Diet
If you want to have a glass of red wine – moderate the consumption to no more than 1 glass with a meal (just like Italians do). However, drinking purple grape juice is a nice alternative to wine.
Many experts suggest that Mediterranean Diet is perhaps the healthiest diet in the world because is a well-balanced diet, abundant in veggies, fruits, olive oil, legumes, and whole grains. It features poultry and fish – lean sources of protein (avoid red meat) that contains saturated fat.
Scientists suggest that the health benefits of following a Mediterranean eating style are many: better control of blood glucose levels, improved weight loss, reduced risk of depression, etc. Eating like Italian (find why ‘Italians don’t get fat’: LINK) has also been linked with reduced levels of inflammation, a risk factor for stroke, heart attack, and Alzheimer’s disease.