The Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is a way of eating that has been around for centuries and is a staple for those living in Southern Italy, Greece and areas bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Incorporating the foundation of healthy eating, this meal plan is easy to follow, rich and flavorful and provides several health benefits.
Not only is the Mediterranean Diet beneficial in aiding in weight loss, but it has been proven to lower your risk of developing other health issues. Research has shown that this meal plan can lower your risk for heart disease as well as your risks for cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. It has also been shown to protect against type 2 diabetes.
Unlike fad diets, this century old way of eating is proven healthy and easy to implement. The focus isn’t in limiting total fat consumption, rather transitioning to healthier options. These simple changes can make an impact on your waistline and overall health.
- Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, olive oil, herbs and spices are the foundation of the diet and should be consumed at every meal. Ideally, you should consume approximately 6 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Since whole grains typically contain a limited number of trans fats, it can be consumed regularly. However, replace the butter or margarine with olive oil, as it does not contain saturated or trans fats. The diet also recommends using herbs and seasonings to flavor foods instead of salt.
- Fish and seafood should be eaten at least twice a week as part of the Mediterranean Diet. Tuna, herring, salmon, and sardines are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to lower triglycerides, decrease blood clotting, lower heart attack risk, moderate blood pressure and improve blood vessels. Shellfish, such as mussels, clams and oysters also increase brain and heart health. When consuming fish and other seafood, opt for grilled, baked, or broiled varieties.
- Poultry and dairy should be consumed in moderate portions daily. Plain and Greek yogurt, skim milk and low-fat cheeses make good replacements for higher fat dairy products.
- Both sweets and red meats should be eaten less often, only a few times a month. When eating meat, dine on smaller, lean portions and incorporate vegetables or whole grain pastas into your meal. Avoid high- fat processed meats like bacon and sausage. Save sweets for special occasions and celebrations. For desserts, eat fresh fruits instead.
- Wine is another aspect of the Mediterranean Diet. When consumed in moderation, red wine can reduce your risk for heart disease.
Not only is the Mediterranean Diet a healthy way of eating, but it also places importance on physical activity and the company of dining with friends and family. After all, “Celebrate life, eat well”.