The Mediterranean Diet has been popular for some time and the reason is simple – It is easy and delicious. Healthy eating the Mediterranean Way may be an easier switch than you think. In fact, when I took a very close look, I realized that I have been eating this way for many years.
The name is accurate because it emulates the way people eat who live on or near the Mediterranean Sea. When studies were done, it was found that people who live on the Mediterranean Diet, experienced a lower incidence of heart disease, reduced incidence of cancer (including breast cancer), Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s – plus they live longer in general.
The findings were surprising at first because the diet includes fats and wine – two things that are usually “no-no’s” on a “healthy diet.” However, further research found that when the types of fats they use (olive oil and real cheese) coupled with good wine, when used in moderation and combined with a nutrient rich diet, can actually be beneficial.
A nutrient-rich diet should be self-explanatory, but in case it is not, let’s take a look at some of the foods that are included in the Mediterranean Diet.
If you do not like fish – this is not a good style of eating for you. BUT . . . if you are like me and LOVE fish, a Mediterranean-type diet is a great choice.
Fish is a natural food for people who live near the sea and being near the warm Mediterranean means being near tons of fish – lucky them! For the rest of us, it is not quite so easy, but good fish is available in most metropolitan areas. And . . . fish is incredibly good for the human body.
Fish is lean and low in calories especially when compared to red met and provides lots of essential fatty acids and amino acids – a wonderful “brain” food and, it keeps you full.
Its easy year-round accessibility (fresh or frozen) makes it an excellent main-dish option.
Salads are a mainstay in all Mediterranean homes – and they are a good way to bulk up a meal without adding a lot of calories. Plus, they are filled with nutrients, providing the body with iron, calcium, and other minerals.
A favorite for people of the area is simple Greek salad. It is a combination of: chopped tomatoes, onions, cucumber, peppers, olives, and feta cheese – lightly drizzled with olive oil.
Going hand-in-hand with fish and veggie salads are all of the healthy fats – meaning saturated fats (not trans fats!) which aid in testosterone production while also enhancing nutrient absorption and improving cholesterol
Seeds and Nuts
Many dishes for this diet include seeds and nuts for flavoring (with lots of herbs). Another excellent choice because they keep you feeling full, which also makes them a brilliant, nutritious snack (including zinc, potassium, magnesium) that will not pack on calories. Add a few nuts or seeds to any salad for crunch and extra flavour.
Fruits and Vegetables
Once again the sunny region in which the diet originated provided lots of berries, grapes, tomatoes, and root vegetables ripe for picking, cooking and eating. This is another big component of the Mediterranean Diet and is one of the biggest ‘secrets’ when it comes to making sure that you enjoy a long, healthy lifespan without getting ill!
In summary, the Mayo Clinic explains:
- Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
- Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
- Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
- Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
- Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
- Enjoying meals with family and friends
- Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)
- Getting plenty of exercise
If you have not already tried this diet, I encourage you to do so. If you don’t want to go full force, at least try adding some of the elements, such as more salads, fruits and veggies, plus nuts and seeds.
Simply adding wine to your diet will not do the trick. (LOL)