What Is The Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet promotes heart healthy eating. It incorporates the basics of healthy eating with other components that characterize the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
The Mediterranean diet is essentially following the eating habits of those who live in the Mediterranean region. It includes generous portions of fresh produce, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats and fish. The American Heart Association notes that the average Mediterranean diet contains a high quantity of calories from fat. Over half of the calories from the fat comes from monounsaturated fats. Therefore, the diet may not be good for individuals who need to limit the number of fats they consume.
The Benefits of The Mediterranean Diet
Prevents heart disease and strokes:
The diet limits the intake of refined bread, processed foods and red meat. It also encourages drinking red wine as opposed to hard liquor.
Keeps older adults agile:
The nutrients in the Mediterranean diet may reduce the risks of developing muscle weakness and other signs of frailty by about 70%.
Reduces the risk of Alzheimers and Dementia:
The Mediterranean diet may help to make cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and overall blood vessel health better. This, in turn, helps to reduce the risk of Alzheimers disease or dementia.
Halving the risk of Parkinson’s Disease:
Due to the high levels of antioxidants in the Mediterranean diet, the cells in the body are prevented from undergoing a damaging process called oxidative stress. This cuts the risk of Parkinson’s disease in half.
The Disadvantages of The Mediterranean Diet
There are a few disadvantages of the Mediterranean diet as it’s well-balanced and researched. Nonetheless, there are a few. They include:
Although the diet doesn’t include pricey branded foods or special supplements, fish and other seafoods can be quite costly.
Diabetics may need additional guidance:
Although the diet can help reduce the risks of diabetes, people with diabetes may need additional guidance. This is because of the emphasis placed on the consumption of grains, fruits, and vegetables (including starchy vegetables). Diabetics need to limit their consumption of carbohydrates to avoid spikes in blood sugar.
Restrictions may feel challenging:
Some of us find it hard to reduce the consumption of red meat and added sugar. An individual who is struggling with eating less red meat can eat it in smaller portions on a less regular basis.
Foods To Eat on the Mediterranean Diet
The foods that form the mediterranean diet have been a controversial topic because it varies among countries. However, most studies have concluded that the diet is high in healthy plant foods and relatively low in animal foods. Nonetheless, it’s recommended that fish and seafood be consumed about twice a week.
The following healthy, unprocessed Mediterranean foods can be consumed:
- Tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, brussel sprouts, cucumbers, etc.
- Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches, etc.
- Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazlenuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
- Beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas, etc
- Potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, African yams, etc.
- Whole oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat, whole-grain bread and pasta.
- Salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crabs, mussels, etc.
- Chicken, duck, turkey, etc
- Chicken, quail, and duck eggs
- Cheese, yogurt, Greek yogurt, etc
- Garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, etc.
- Extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, avocado oil.
Foods To Avoid on Mediterranean Diet
The following foods should be avoided:
- Sweets, ice cream, sugar
- White bread, pasta made with refined wheat, etc.
- Trans fats in margarine and other processed foods
- Soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, and others
- Processed sausages, hot dogs, etc
- Highly processed foods