Tag Archives: Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean Diet Is Not for Everyone

For the past few weeks I have been talking about the merits of the Mediterranean Diet. However, I have to acknowledge that no diet is perfect for every single person and Mediterranean diet is no exception to that rule. The Mediterranean Diet is not for everyone.

There may be some people who find that they have negative reactions to some of the foods on the diet – others may find that it simply is not suitable for their lifestyle.

Excellent Choice for Most People

Explaining the Mediterranean Diet
Image by karandaev

However, it is an excellent choice for most people because the health benefits are tremendous. Lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol levels, reduced risk of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes and much more.

The diet is based on consuming wholesome fresh foods in their natural state and by cooking them in a healthy ways.

Red meats are eaten only on occasion; sugar, processed foods filled with additives, fast foods, and junk food, which are the cause of so many illnesses in today’s world are simply not eaten.

It should not be news that most health problems in the US can be attributed to a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle.

The Mediterranean diet solves both problems, if you let it. It provides the healthy nutritious foods your body needs for energy and well-being; plus, it incorporates exercise to solve the sedentary lifestyle issue.

Potential Difficulties

Let’s look at some of the potential difficulties.

1. The diet can be expensive.

When you eat primarily fish, fresh (preferably organic) fruits and vegetables, nuts, etc. you will find that they are more expensive than grabbing a cheeseburger from a fast food joint or buying junk food from the vending machine at work.

But . . . if you consider the health problems you may endure in the future and the cost of health care that goes with those problems, you may want to think twice about the actual cost. The healthy foods on the Mediterranean diet may not seem so expensive after all.

2. Possible food allergies.

It is possible that some people may have allergic reactions to some of the foods in the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil may not agree with their digestive system, etc. It happens. If you have serious reactions to any of the foundational foods of the diet, you would probably want to choose another diet – just make sure it is a healthy one.

3. The toxicity of fish.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fish and is one of the most toxic foods on the market today because of pollution in the world’s waterways

Educate yourself and find out which fish are richest in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, lowest in mercury contamination, and sustainably produced. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) there are better (and worse) choices when buying fish.  Check out their website for details on how to buy fish – The EWG’s Seafood Guide.

You can also get your omega-3 fatty acids from sources such as flaxseed, walnuts and Brussel sprouts.

4. Cost and availability of fruits and vegetables.

It may not always be easy to obtain fresh seasonal produce and some of the more common choices in the Mediterranean Region may not be available in your area – or the cost will be prohibitive – especially for organic.

Easy to Adapt?

Will it be easy to adopt the Mediterranean Diet with a full commitment?  Maybe not.  It may take some serious adjustment and determination to stay with it.

As Americans we are used to eating whatever we want, whenever we want it. If we are feeling hungry or blue – grab that tub of ice-cream. When we are bored, frustrated or angry, we reach for comfort foods like a bucket of fried chicken with mashed potatoes and biscuits form KFC.

Food has become far more than sustenance for many people. It is frequently used as a form of ‘medication’ for emotional problems. It that plays into your eating patterns, staying with any diet will be challenging.

When you start the Mediterranean Diet it can take time to adapt to the practice of thinking about what you are eating and being willing to make healthy choices. Eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes with thick gravy is not encouraged. The tub of ice cream should be replaced with a bowl of sweet, healthy fruit that is preferably high in fiber.

Such dramatic changes in your approach to food and eating habits may not sit well with some people. It may be too different and troublesome. Maybe that will be the case initially. But, you know that anything worthwhile often has challenges that must be faced. Major accomplishments rarely come easily.

Adopt the Mediterranean Diet!  Give it your best shot (including your time and energy), keep a positive attitude no matter what, and you may be surprised at how fast you realize that this is diet you want to stay with the rest of your life.

Your body and health will reflect the benefits of this diet in time . . . give it a real chance!

 

Mediterranean Food Pyramid

Since grade school we have known about the food pyramid, but the food pyramid I want to discuss today is quite different: The Mediterranean Food Pyramid.

Mediterranean Food Pyramid

The pyramid is used by countless health organizations, clinics, doctors and many others to guide people to eat in a healthy manner. It is the standard to live by and health professionals unanimously agree that by following this diet pyramid, your health will benefit tremendously.

The pyramid is a wonderful synopsis of what the Mediterranean Diet entails. It shows four different food groups and the optimal number of servings of each group that should be consumed.

The pyramid was created based on research of the diet that the people in the Mediterranean countries consume. The area was selected as the model because of the low incidence of heart disease and high life expectancy found in the region.

One of the primary reasons for the healthy results of the diet is that the people not only use fresh, unadulterated ingredients, they also cook their meals in very healthy ways.

They are among the minority of the world’s population that have not embraced the fast food culture that dominates the US and Australia. It should be noted that both countries are battling an obesity epidemic.

You Will Eat Fresh, Healthy Foods

There are no processed foods, colas, white flour products, pizzas or any unhealthy food in the food pyramid. There are only categories of fresh, healthy foods: fruits and vegetables, nuts and grains, beans, fish and seafood, and healthy oils (primarily olive oil) – plus a little red wine.

Your fat consumption should be moderate along with consumption of dairy products such as yogurt and cheese. Eggs can be consumed daily.

Fish (seafood) is preferred over meat and should be consumed twice a week. Poultry is also preferred over red meat and should be consumed once a week. Red meat should only be consumed 3 to 4 times a month. The rest of the time, vegetables, legumes, and/or pasta should be the focal point of your meals.

Fruit and vegetables (7 servings) should be consumed daily.

Get rid of your salt shaker and start seasoning with fresh herbs and spices. Don’t forget the garlic and onions.

Cook primarily with olive oil. Butter should be used minimally, if at all.  NEVER use margarine or hydrogenated oil products.

The use of unhealthy hydrogenated oils is very rare in Mediterranean cooking – and they rarely eat red meat or sweets (other than fresh fruit)

Avoid all foods that contain processed sugar. That means chocolate, candies, and most rich desserts are to be consumed minimally.

One of the distinctive characteristics of the Mediterranean diet is red wine. This is not an open invitation to include all alcoholic beverages such as beer, vodka or bourbon in your diet. The Mediterranean diet advocates ONLY wine. About 1 glass for women and no more than 2 glasses a day for men and usually, consumption is after dinner.

The food pyramid is just a guideline to help you eat in a healthy way. You do not need to be overly strict and get upset if you do not follow it exactly. As long as you eat the foods on the pyramid and stop eating the healthy damaging junk/processed foods that are typical on the American diet, you will be doing well. If you make those changes, you will be giving yourself one of the greatest gifts possible: Good Health!

Photo from: https://www.unitypoint.org/madison/filesimages/News%20Article%20Images/mediterranean-diet-pyramid.jpg

From the same site, check out the 7-day Mediterranean Menu (Autumn/Winter).  Not only does it suggest full menus for all meals, it includes recipes and calorie count for the day.  ENJOY!

Mediterranean Diet Shopping List

Hopefully you are convinced (as I am) that the Mediterranean diet is fantastic. It has proven to be a healthy way of life for many people – why not you? Unlike other diets such as the Atkins diet or Paleo diet there is little debate over whether or not it is good for you.

Of course, we have established that it is also quite different from other diets because it is more about food choices and cooking methods – a way of eating – rather than focusing on restrictions. In fact, it doesn’t really even talk about portion control. Although, I do recommend that you use good sense and eat moderately.

Other than that, this is one of the best diets on the planet. It’s tasty, easy to follow, and has multiple health benefits, such as:  reducing your risk of getting nasty diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Also – if you need to lower your blood pressure and bad cholesterol . . . the Mediterranean diet is for you. If you want to live a long and healthy life . . . you got it! The Mediterranean diet is for you.

It you are focusing on clean eating, this is a diet that allows you to follow that philosophy, eat well, and enjoy the food.

The diet itself is quite simple and very flexible. You should be able to find most of the food at your local supermarket.

Mediterranean Diet Shopping List

The diet can be broken down into a few groups, which makes it easy to shop:

  • Whole grains
  • Healthy oils & fats
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Yogurt and cheese
  • Seafood
  • Beans
  • Herbs and spices

That’s pretty much it. There may be a few other items, but for the most part, if you stick to these eight categories, you will be eating healthy.

Whole Grains

Please notice it says “whole grains.” In fact, look for the word “whole” or 100% whole wheat or whole grain on the label. Examples would be whole grain bread or whole grain pasta. Good whole grain items would be: pasta, tortillas, bread, oatmeal, cereals, polenta, brown rice, quinoa, barley and pita.

Whole wheat bread dipped in olive oil is a tasty treat.

Healthy Oils

Mediterranean DietHealthy oils are a key ingredient In the Mediterranean diet. Replace butter with healthy fats – especially extra-virgin olive oil, which is excellent for cooking and on salads.

Other suggested oils are: canola, grape seed, sesame, and avocado oil. In the Mediterranean diet, the staple oil used is olive oil. Oils have lots of calories, so try to limit yourself to no more than three tablespoons per day.

Keep the oils in a cool, dark place so that they last longer.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are another group of healthy fats. You must be a little cautious with this group, they are calorie dense. Don’t go nuts with the nuts. Consume them in moderation or you will end up adding pounds you do not want.

A handful a day will provide our body with protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Buy them in bulk and pack them in small snack bags – limiting yourself to one bag per day.

Almonds, cashews, flax, sunflower seeds, walnuts and pine nuts are all good choices.

Vegetables and Fruits

Fruits and Vegetables
Image by by Erdosain

These are nutrition-packed foods filled with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Always buy fresh, organic produce when it is available. Seven to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables should be eaten daily.

Frozen fruits and veggies are also fine as long as they are quick frozen with nothing added. Avoid canned vegetables, if possible. If you must use canned, be they are low sodium.

Vegetables – you have many choices:  All the green leafy vegetables, plus broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, celery, onions, radishes, tomatoes, squash, beets, mustard greens, avocados, green peppers, etc. Obviously, it is a long list!

Fruits are eaten in place of sweets on this diet. Recommended are: apples, cherries, dates, peaches, kiwi, mango, papaya, grapefruit, oranges, melons, and strawberries.  Again . . . buy organic if at all possible; or, you may be ingesting pesticides that are harmful to your body. If not organic, wash extremely well and peel if possible.

Yogurt and Cheese

Dairy is not a major focus on the diet. It is usually eaten in the form of yogurt and cheese.  Both are good options as a calcium source. Stay with whole natural cheeses and plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt (need sweet, add a little honey).

Seafood

Baked SalmonSeafood is heavily consumed in the Mediterranean region. Shrimp, salmon, cod, clams, tilapia, tuna, sardines, scallops and crab are excellent seafood choices and are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

Eggs are also eaten as a source of protein and a regular part of the diet. Chicken is also served on occasion.  Red meat is eaten rarely – so go very easy on this one.

Lentils and Beans

These are high in protein but low in fats and calories. You have many choices: lentils, chickpeas, clack beans, pinto beans and white beans.

Herbs and Spices

Use fresh or dried herbs and spices to season your food and enhance the flavors. You will not need to use salt or unhealthy fats to make your food tasty. Garlic, mint, cumin, coriander, parsley, basil, oregano, cilantro and pepper are good choices.

Don’t forget the garlic – a favorite in the Mediterranean Region.

Red Wine

Mediterranean Diet
Image by karandaev

I know this isn’t one of the categories – and is optional on the diet. But if you enjoy good red wine, a glass each evening is encouraged (one for women and no more than two for men).

That pretty much sums it up. The diet is primarily focused on fresh fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and seafood with limited poultry and practically no red meat plus minimal sweets – all good reasons why it is so healthy.

Shop wisely and ENJOY!

Mediterranean Diet – Excellent Choice for Women

Lead researcher, Cecilia Samieri, DVM, PHD, Boston University School of Medicine stated, “Women with healthier dietary patterns at midlife were 40% more likely to survive to age 70 or over.” That is proof that a diet does affect your longevity. But you already knew that.

But, why is the Mediterranean Diet specifically an excellent choice for women?

Mediterranean Diet - Excellent Choice for Women
Image by lunamarina

The average American woman’s diet is filled with highly-processed foods, high in unhealthy fats, high in refined sugar and white flour, filled with additives, and low in nutrition.

Continual consumption of such an unhealthy diet wreaks havoc on a woman’s skin and her body.  It causes her to age more quickly; it weakens her muscles; her energy levels drop; inactivity sets in; and she eventually loses her natural sense of well-being.

The Mediterranean Diet is primarily a natural food diet made up of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, legumes, nuts, and a little red wine. It is high in monounsaturated fats due to the use of extra-virgin olive oil which is extremely beneficial to the body. Processed foods, fast foods, high sugar content and unhealthy fats are not part of the eating plan.

A Different Way of Eating

The Med-Diet is a different way of eating – you will be feeding your body natural foods that are healthy for the body and mind!

Most women who are struggling to lose weight generally reduce their food intake and start exercising vigorously. While both of these things can be helpful, reducing your food intake, but continuing to eat unhealthy foods is not a wise choice.

It is much better to choose a healthy diet and to eat in moderation to lose weight.  You could possibly eat junk food in moderation and stay slim; but, think about what are you would be doing to your body in the process. You may be choosing to lose weight at the cost of your good health.

It isn’t difficult to see that it would be much better to eat healthy foods like salmon drizzled in olive oil, Greek yogurt with a little honey, stir-fried broccoli, or Quinoa Pasta Primavera, etc.

That is what makes the Mediterranean diet so fantastic. The food you get to eat is actually delicious, nutritious and beneficial to your health.  No more forcing yourself to eat another bland steamed chicken breast or chalk-like protein shake – or caught between feeling half-starved or binge eating when no one is looking.

Reap the Rewards

  • Fresh vegetables and fruits will ensure your body has adequate fiber and vitamins.
  • Calcium rich foods such as kale, Brussel sprouts and spinach will prevent the dreaded osteoporosis.
  • Legumes and potatoes, which are rich in potassium, will prevent you from losing muscle tone and will also lower your blood pressure.
  • Olive oil will reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • The healthy omega-3 fatty acids found in the fish that you eat will do wonders for your health. The modern day diet is too high in omega-6 fatty acids and too low in omega-3 fatty acids. The Mediterranean diet will reverse this awful trend.
  • Honey as your natural sweetener along with generous servings of fruit will help minimize your sugar intake and help avoid Type 2 Diabetes.

Unlike the Atkins Diet, Paleo Diet or Cabbage Soup Diet, the Mediterranean Diet is not too restrictive, which makes it much easier to follow and to sustain over the long-haul.  You will be able stay on the diet because you will be enjoying yourself rather than suffering and staying on track through pure will power.

The Mediterranean Diet is a way of life. It will work wonders for your health and peace of mind. All it takes is a desire to be healthy and a willingness to prepare and eat the wonderfully delicious foods in moderation and daily exercise to start living a healthier lifestyle.

Mediterranean Diet - Excellent Choice for Women
Image by Mike Baird

To all women, I say, “ Make this choice as soon as you can and enjoy the health benefits and sense of well-being that come from being on a nutritious, well-balanced diet.”

5 Tips for the Mediterranean Diet

Enjoy these 5 tips for the Mediterranean Diet, which has become one of the most popular diet choices in the world even though it is more a healthy way of eating than a diet as we usually define the word. It should be around for a very long time.

Explaining the Mediterranean Diet
Image by karandaev

Unlike other fad diets, it is not new nor particularly unique. In fact, these five simple tips will help you stay on track if you choose to implement it.

This incredibly healthy way of eating comes to us from the Mediterranean Sea Region where people have been preparing and eating this way for centuries. If you were to ask them about the “diet” they would not see why it is such a big deal – it is just the way they have always eaten.

Yet, to Americans and the rest of the world who have developed a steady diet of convenience foods made up of processed, additive-filled meals and junk food, the health benefits of this diet can seem dramatic and almost unbelievable.

The diet gained its recent and massive popularity after the results of a five-year Spanish study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that showed it slowed aging, reduced bad cholesterol, and prevented the onset of diseases such as Alzheimer’s Parkinson’s, stroke, cardiovascular disease, etc.

Hopefully, you are already convinced that the diet (way of eating) is awesome and have started or will soon start this journey to better health.

If so, the following tips should be followed in order to receive the greatest benefits possible from the Mediterranean diet.

5 Tips for the Mediterranean Diet

  1. Eat lots of fresh fruit daily

Since fruits grow abundantly in the Mediterranean’s warm climate, the people love their fruit and eat several servings every day. Doing so, not only diminishes sugar cravings, they are a good source of fiber, and provide many important nutrients for your body.

There are many fresh fruits available on the market – organic is the best choice, if available. Eat your favorites and try new ones – they are all good for you. Kiwi, pomegranate, figs, berries, apricots, apples and bananas are all popular fruits that are commonly found in the Mediterranean area.

  1. Use olive oil as your staple fat

This is a fundamental necessity of the Mediterranean Diet. Almost all of your cooking should be done with extra virgin olive oil, which is extremely beneficial to the body. It is known as liquid gold because it is full of anti-oxidant properties and monounsaturated fatty acids.

A study published in the journal Pharmacological Research found:

People who regularly consume olive oil are much less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, and hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels). They also found that regular olive oil intake helps reduce inflammation, endothelial dysfunction (problems with the inner linings of blood vessels), thrombosis and carbohydrate metabolism.

A study published in the scientific journal, Diabetes Care, showed that a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil reduced the risk of Type II Diabetes by almost 50% compared to a low-fat diet.

As you can see, olive oil is highly beneficial to your health. Use it to roast or lightly sauté your vegetables, sprinkled over a fresh salad, or anytime to enhance the taste and flavor of your cooking.

Hydrogenated vegetable oils must be avoided completely. They are one of the main causes of obesity in the world. These are dangerous to your health and are loaded with Omega-6 fatty acids when the body needs is Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and olive oil.

  1. Eat lots of green leafy vegetable

These should be part of your diet even if you are not on the Mediterranean Diet. They are rich in nutrients and low in calories, which makes them ideal for weight management.

They are also rich in folic acid, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium, while being low in fat and high in fiber – all of which helps reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

  1. Eat fish often.

Any kind of fish will do – tilapia, cod, grouper, salmon, tuna, etc. Along with olive oil, fish oil is also an important component in the Mediterranean diet. Always buy fresh fish when you can and freeze extra for later use.

You can also buy frozen fish. Fish that you buy from the grocer’s freezer is typically quick frozen as soon as it is caught, which means that you are getting all the nutrients you would if you ate the same piece of fish fresh. Buying frozen fish also generally offers a greater variety.

Keep your intake of other meats such as chicken, beef and pork low. Lower consumption of saturated fat probably accounts for the much lower risk of heart disease associated with this diet.

  1. Drink a glass of red wine every night after dinner

You do not have to do this, but if you enjoy wine, we recommend it. It is a key component in the Mediterranean diet. Notice it says “a glass of wine” meaning ONE glass. (No more than one glass/day for women and two glasses/day for men.)  This does not give you an excuse to drink a bottle or more of wine each. day.

Too many people are in the habit of guzzling down beers or knocking down shots of tequila or Sambuca which is very unhealthy. We are also not recommending other types of alcohol such as bourbon, vodka, etc. that are poisonous to the body

It is believed that red wine contains antioxidants, such as flavonoids or a substance called resveratrol that have heart-healthy benefits. Enjoy your evening glass of wine – your heart will thank you.

In Closing

Following the five tips above for the Mediterranean Diet will improve your health. The Mediterranean Diet is the easiest diet in the world to follow – it is not strange or restrictive. With only a few small changes, you should be able easily adapt your eating habits and enjoy all the delicious foods.

If you are truly interested in giving this diet a shot . . . Just found a new article that could be helpful:

15 Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, According to Science (+ How to Get Started / Diet Plan