Looking to make a switch to a heart-healthy diet? You’ve probably heard of the Mediterranean Diet – a rich plant-based diet with a generous dose of whole grains, healthy fats, and an occasional glass of your A-list red wine. You heard me right! Your favorite drink isn’t entirely off the menu.
The Mediterranean diet is heralded time and time again by the world’s top medical experts as the No.1 life-saving way of dining. It has become the “it” diet for persons who want to live healthier for longer.
So what’s all the fuss about this “magic” diet? Let’s find out.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet goes way back to the typical eating habits in the 1960s of the Mediterranean countries. During that time, life expectancy was the most extended, and coronary heart disease rates lowest. The trends were attributed to the eating habits of the inhabitants of these regions.
The diet is a blend of healthy eating and the cooking habits and the exotic traditional flavors of the coastal cuisines of the Mediterranean countries. Think of countries like southern France, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Crete, Spain, and northern Africa.
There isn’t a one-way Mediterranean diet. French eat differently from Italians who eat differently from Greeks and Spanish. But they all share similar principles.
The main emphasis of the diet is on traditional foods. It comprises a meal plan with a generous portion of vegetables and fruits, an extra topping of dairy and whole grains, plus a handful of nuts and seeds. Not to forget your entrée of dairy, poultry or seafood and a glass of wine for dessert.
Keep in mind: plant foods should not overshadow animal foods.
Sharing meals and physical activity are essential components of the Mediterranean diet. You get to savor every bite and relish each flavor with your loved ones. The diet helps you foster a deep appreciation for eating healthy, delicious meals.
How do you get started on the Mediterranean diet?
Are you curious about the Mediterranean diet? We’ll help you make the switch. Here’s some helpful advice on getting started with the Mediterranean diet:
- 3 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
- 3 servings of legumes (beans and lentils) per week.
- At most, 4 tbsp of extra virgin oil per day.
- 3 servings of seafood per week.
- 3 servings of nuts per week.
- 3-6 servings of whole grains per day.
- 1-2 glasses of wine per day.
- 3 servings of cheese per week. No limit on egg whites but consume egg yolks in moderation
- Olive oil is your go-to oil.
Note: 1 serving= ½ a cup.
- Water is a common choice of drink.
- Consume in moderation or avoid processed meat, refined grains, refined oils, sugar-sweetened beverages, and ultra-processed or packaged foods.
Sounds simple right? Contrary to common misconceptions about the Mediterranean diet and compared to other foods, the Mediterranean diet is less restrictive. The huge variety makes it easy to stick to the menu while achieving your health goals.
If you’re struggling to cook the Mediterranean way, this Mediterranean diet book will help you solve all your meal plan struggles. With a ton of flavourful recipes, you can whip up a hearty meal in no time.
Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet:
The Mediterranean diet offers tons of perks. Here are the top reasons to embrace this heart-friendly diet:
- Drop the inches:
If you’re trying to roll back the scale, the Mediterranean diet can be worth considering. According to different studies, obese and overweight persons lost more weight while on a Mediterranean diet than any other food.
The diet is rich in fiber, which promotes gut health and keeps you fuller for longer. So you don’t have to reach for that extra bag of chips. You’d think it would take a miracle to lose weight while binging on nuts, seeds, and oils, right?
- Keep your heart happy:
The Mediterranean diet is heart-friendly. Nuts and olive oil help reduce bad cholesterol. Vegetables, fruits, and beans keep your arteries clean while fish help lower blood pressure and triglycerides.
They increase the concentration of “good cholesterol,” known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) which encourages an active, healthy heart. Even a daily glass of red wine is right for your heart. Red wine is rich in resveratrol, which helps roll back the clock.
- Helps you stay agile:
For older adults, the rich nutrients your body gains with the Mediterranean diet helps reduce the risk of developing weak muscles, none frailty and other bone diseases like osteoporosis by about 75%.
- Keeps you safe from Type 2 diabetes:
The Mediterranean diet is rich in fiber which slows down digestion, prevents huge spikes in blood sugar and helps you maintain a healthy weight and BMI (Basal Metabolic Index). The diet helps you feel full for longer and reduces your chances of overeating. You’ll also have better digestive health.
- Better mental health:
Studies show that a Mediterranean diet can relieve anxiety and depression thus promoting better mental health. Can what you eat affect how you feel? Well, a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats help, and lean protein with minimal sweets and fried foods can relieve stress and anxiety.
We’re not claiming a healthy diet is a cure for depression. But alongside therapy and medication, the Mediterranean diet has a positive impact on mental health
The Bottom line:
The Mediterranean diet is billed by the World Health Organization as a healthy and sustainable eating plan which prevents chronic disease and promotes health.
With the ballooning rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer due to poor diet and lack of physical activity, the Mediterranean diet offers a fresh approach to healthy eating. There’s plenty of variety and you can enjoy a ton of no-fuss meals with the entire family.
Plus, it can help you live longer. Give it a shot.
Food is one of the greatest pleasures of the world, so enjoy your food and remember the famous Hippocrates’ saying, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”