It seems that every culture has a different way of eating and the Mediterranean diet is considered much different to the standard U.S. eating pattern. The Mediterranean diet is considered to be one of the best eating plans around for general health, weight loss, and for heart health. While it is known that the Mediterranean diet is healthy, there is still much to be learned of this healthy dieting plan. Listed ahead is a complete guide of all that you should know about the Mediterranean diet along with some of the overall benefits and recipes to get you started.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is one of the most intriguing diet plans around in that it is one of the oldest dieting plans around. While it is not considered a diet per se to those who live in the Mediterranean area, for many of the adults in the U.S. it is a way to incorporate healthy foods to boost wellness. Let’s take a closer look into some of the fine aspects of the Mediterranean diet.
It Is Not New
In modern era diets, it seems that new eating plans pop up every year. However, one of the best things about the Mediterranean diet plan is that it has been around since around the 1950s. While it has been around for decades, the Mediterranean diet did not grow in popularity in the U.S. until a later time and especially after heart disease became a major issue in the country.
What Does it Entail
The Mediterranean diet involves healthy foods that include olives, olive oil, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and foods that have not been refined or processed. In addition, the Mediterranean diet encourages eating as many plant-based foods as possible, meaning consuming whole grains, raw vegetables, legumes, olives, spices, and nuts. Much of the modern era diet includes salt for flavor, but the Mediterranean diet encourages using fresh herbs and spices as a way to enhance flavor, which also promotes heart health. There is more to the Mediterranean diet than this, but these aspects allow you to get the idea as to what part of the diet entails.
Where Did It Originate
Yes, the Mediterranean diet comes from the Mediterranean area, but it was designed as a way to eat how the people do in Greece, Italy, and Spain for the purpose of cutting back on poor health. This way of eating did not make its way to the U.S. for quite some time though, but once it was introduced, the health benefits became well-known.
Why Did this Become a Popular Diet
It is hard to predict what becomes popular, but the Mediterranean diet was not popularized in the U.S. for quite some time. It really was the health benefits that first attracted adults to this way of life and these health benefits were first observed by Ancel Keys, who was a scientist in Minnesota. Keys observed particular eating patterns of some of the poorest areas in Italy and compared it to some of the wealthiest in New York City. He found that those in Italy had much better health than those in New York, leading to the presumption that diet plays a major role in your overall health and wellness.
Mediterranean Diet Plan
As with any diet plan, there are foods that you should eat and those that you should stray from. While the Mediterranean diet does not necessarily discourage a particular food, it does promote better food options. Listed ahead are some of the foods that you should incorporate more often into your diet and some that you should stray from.
Mediterranean Food To Eat More Of
Fruits and Vegetables
If you were to take a look at the Mediterranean diet food pyramid, you would see a vast difference when compared to the MyPlate U.S. version. For starters, many people who are on the Mediterranean diet plan tend to eat around nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily, which is far more than what the standard adults eats in the U.S. Fruits and vegetables offer an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and compounds that help to protect your health and promote your well-being, so more is better. Plus, these foods are lower in calories than other options, so again more is better.
A very nice part of the Mediterranean diet is that you can enjoy grains. However, the Mediterranean diet eats grains much differently than how the U.S. diet does; the Mediterranean diet consumed more whole grains and strays from processed foods. For this reason, eating grains is ok as long as you stay away from processed versions. Consider making your bread fresh and consider whole grain options no matter what.
One of the biggest elements in the Mediterranean diet are nuts. Considered to be calorically dense, nuts are loaded with healthy fats and fiber to promote health. The healthy fats in nuts help to prevent inflammation from building in your arteries, which allows for better blood flow to your heart and organs. Consider a handful of nuts at least per day for best results and stray from salted and sugared options.
This is the part of the diet that is vastly different than a standard U.S. diet. The Mediterranean diet plan suggests more seafood than any other protein option. In addition, this meal plan encourages consuming healthy, fatty protein options such as salmon and poultry. One major difference in the Mediterranean diet is that it encourages red meat consumption, but rarely. Some sources suggest eating red meat at most two times per month on this diet and all the rest coming from other healthier sources. This is one of the main reasons why it is considered one of the best diet plans for heart health.
Not many diet plans suggest that you consume alcohol, but the Mediterranean diet takes it a step further. In moderation, the Mediterranean diet encourages the consumption of red wine as a way to boost antioxidant consumption. Moderation consists of about one glass of wine per day and as long as you stay within this moderation area, your health will flourish. Over consumption of alcohol tends to increase the amount of cholesterol your body creates and it can increase your blood pressure, thus placing you at higher risk of stroke.
There really is no restriction on dairy with the Mediterranean diet, but it should be known that this eating plan encourages dairy from cheeses and yogurt. Consider true Greek strained yogurt as a healthy option and be aware that many U.S. store-bought Greek yogurts are loaded with added sugar and additives.
Notice that this not a large section; this means that there are not many restrictions on what you should be eating. However, the Mediterranean diet encourages that you stay away from processed foods, sugar, added sugar products, sweeteners, canola and processed oils, margarine, hot dogs, sausage, fried foods, and any foods that contain trans-fats.
What are the Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan?
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that adults go on a Mediterranean diet is to lose weight. Many diets out there tend to restrict a food group or cut out calories, but this eating plan allows for you to eat as you normally would with minor changes. With that said, the Mediterranean diet plan allows for weight loss that lasts.
Boost Heart Health
The Mediterranean diet meal plan promotes heart health in a few ways. For starters, the whole grain options and plentiful fruits and vegetables promotes high fiber intake, which is something the U.S. diet lacks. In addition, the incorporation of healthy fats and encouraging omega-3 fatty acids helps to eliminate inflammation from your body, which has an important effect on your heart. Lastly, allowing optional red wine is a healthy way to boost antioxidants in your body to protect against illness. Not to mention, red wine helps to relax and calm the body, which has an effect on the heart.
Combat Certain Cancer
There is no cure for cancer, but there is a lot that can be said about prevention and reducing your overall risk. The antioxidants in the Mediterranean diet plan helps to fight off various infections as well as illnesses, maybe even certain cancers. Generally, this is made possible through the vast fruits and vegetables, and especially through the red wine.
Improve your Mental Health
While there is still more research needed on the topic, it seems that adding healthy fats that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help to slow or prevent the progression of mental health issues. For this purpose, the Mediterranean diet may help throughout the aging process and may even help to slow it altogether.
One of the best things about the Mediterranean diet meal plan is that it encourages overall lifestyle balance. With a sound diet that incorporates fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and strays from red meats and sweets, your body is provided the nutrients needed to be healthy and active. The diet plan also encourages eating with others, socializing, and being physically active, which is a great way to promote overall wellness. With the diet and activity portion combined, the Mediterranean diet can help to prevent diabetes from affecting you.
Mediterranean Diet Plan
Starting on a Mediterranean diet plan does not take much when first starting. In fact, a Mediterranean diet plan is perhaps one of the easiest to get onboard considering there are no major restrictions on food. As long as you can make slight changes to your diet by eliminating sugar, sweets, and processed foods then you should be just fine getting started. While a Mediterranean diet plan is something that many find east to get aboard, consider finding some recipes to help add some excitement to your lifestyle change.
Mediterranean Diet Recipes
Finding recipes for the Mediterranean diet should not be a challenge seeing how it is growing in popularity for individuals looking to be healthier. Consider healthy and basic recipe options listed here, which incorporate Greek salads, salmon and beans, fresh herbs with every meal, lamb, and a variety of seafood options.
In addition to healthy meal options, consider making your own homemade hummus by following with this recipe. Hummus is a healthy dip that is made from garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and it is blended with spices and olive oil. This type of dip adds protein, fiber, and it tastes great with fresh carrots or raw veggies.
Wrapping it up on the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is considered to be one of the healthiest eating plans around. Jumping onboard the Mediterranean diet plan can help to boost your heart health, prevent certain illnesses, as well as promote a better lifestyle. With the incorporation of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and moderation with red wine, this diet plan it certainly one of the favorites when it comes to boosting your health profile. If you are at risk of heart disease or simply want to be healthier, consider talking with your doctor about the Mediterranean diet and how it may benefit you. Starting on this diet is one of the easiest since it has very few restrictions on food options, but consider any of the listed recipe sources to help you get started in the right direction.