Many different 'styles' of eating or diets around the world have been studied to determine the benefits to our health and the Mediterranean diet, which is the most researched, consistently comes out on top. This super healthy way of eating has been followed for many generations in certain areas of the Mediterranean, with foods and recipes from Greece and the southern region of Italy being considered the healthiest.
Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
Following this diet is a sustainable way of eating because you are consuming an abundance of delicious, hearty and flavorful foods and you aren't left feeling deprived. In addition, to eating all sorts of tasty foods, there are so many amazing health benefits of following this way of eating that have been shown through extensive studies.
Weight loss: Following this diet results in less abdominal fat and promotes a healthy, balanced weight throughout life.
Mental acuity: The healthy foods you consume on this diet have been proven to lessen cognitive decline and improve memory.
Mood: You will find that your mood improves and there is less risk of depression because you are not consuming inflammatory foods.
Protection against diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's and dementia: Lowers risk of obesity, helps control blood pressure, protects against oxidative stress and inflammation and stabilizes blood sugar.
Gut health: Benefits the gut microbiome which can provide protection against chronic disease.
Longevity: Following this diet and lifestyle results in a higher life expectancy and better quality of life.
How to Follow the Mediterranean Diet
Following this style of eating, as well as living, is really quite simple. The Mediterranean diet is plant-based with healthy fats, lots of fiber, a moderate consumption of healthy seafood and a minimal consumption of meat. Follow these guidelines to get started...
1-Mostly plant-based: The cornerstone of this diet is a focus on vegetables, including lots of leafy greens, and beans. Also, be sure to include a small amount of fruits which are eaten whole with the skin intact along with unsalted nuts and seeds.
2-Minimally processed foods: Avoid pre-packaged foods and eat fresh, simple, organic and clean.
3-Local and seasonal: Consume a variety of foods that are in season and buy local whenever possible.
4-Wild-caught fatty fish: At least 2 times per week.
5-Organic poultry and pasture-raised eggs: In moderation.
6-Grass-fed red meat/pork: No more than once per week and not in large quantities...think of it as a side dish.
7-Extra virgin olive oil: Purchase high quality EVOO which is used exclusively as the main source of healthy fat.
8-Dairy: Main sources are full-fat cheeses, such as feta and ricotta, and unsweetened Greek yogurt.
9-Grains: Whole grain breads and pita breads that are free from preservatives and additives, phyllo dough and whole grain pasta. All in moderation.
10-Herbs and spices: Stock up on cumin, dill, black pepper, sea salt, mint, basil, parsley, oregano and rosemary
11-Desserts: Not to be eaten regularly but only in moderation on special occasions.
12-Drinks: Mostly water, some coffee, herbal teas and moderate amounts of wine with meals.
13-Pantry items: Stock up on balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, capers, Kalamata olives and sun-dried tomatoes.
Overconsumption of sweets
Large amounts of red meat or pork
Processed meats/deli meats
Vegetable and seed oils
Artificial additives and preservatives
Another very important aspect that makes this diet so healthy is the lifestyle that goes along with it. Socializing, especially while eating meals, is very important as well as regular physical activity and daily relaxation time.
Grab yourself a cookbook or search online for Mediterranean diet recipes and start with small steps today in learning how to incorporate these delicious foods into your healthy lifestyle.