The last few years have witnessed the birth of countless diets. Raw food, vegan, ketogenic, Paleo – the list goes on and on. With each one earning the classic “thumb down” from health experts and nutritionists, we were left wondering if there is really a perfect diet that can live up to the promise of meeting all our dietary and weight loss needs.
Research claims there is. And the answer apparently lies in eating like the Greeks.
Study after study shows that the Mediterranean diet is not just helpful in maintaining an optimal weight but also in lowering one’s risk of cardiovascular disease, boosting brain function, and even offering protection against uterine cancer.1 2 3 It should, therefore, really come as no surprise that an increasing number of people are beginning to chase after this diet.
However, many of us have got its fare all wrong. And while the term “Mediterranean food” evokes a delicious imagery of pizzas, lamb chops, lasagnas, loaves of white bread, and multiple helpings of wine, the true Mediterranean diet involves foods that are the complete opposite, though just as flavorful. Here’s what it entails.
1. Plant-Based Foods
This means only one thing. The diet is founded mainly on fresh foods in their most natural form that go through minimal processing. Foods like lentils, nuts, beans, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and veggies are the hallmark staples of this diet and find their way to your table at least six servings in a day.
The Mediterranean diet recommends eating fatty seafood or fish twice a week at the very least. This type of seafood is rich in heart-healthy and brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Healthy Unsaturated Fats
Saturated fats like vegetable oil and butter are a strict no-no. Instead, bread, meat, and vegetables are cooked with olive oil – another source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Olive oil is also a great source of antioxidants, compounds that help prevent oxidative damage by free radicals. This is why the Mediterranean diet is so useful in lowering one’s chances of cancer.
4. Fresh Herbs And Spices
Cooking and seasoning with fresh herbs and spices bumps up the flavor of your food by several notches, thereby allowing you to go easier on the salt. Not only does this allow the body to benefit from the myriad medicinal properties of these natural seasonings, but also lowers one’s risk of high blood pressure, water retention, stroke, and various health conditions that are associated with a high intake of sodium.
5. Moderate Servings Of Animal Protein
These become more of a side dish, rather than the main course. The more preferred sources of protein include eggs, yogurt, chicken, and a variety of cheeses.
6. Low Servings Of Sweets And Red Meat
This means you don’t have to worry about empty calories and extra fat deposits around your waistline. It also means a lowered risk of cholesterol and heart disease.
Tip: If you truly want to embrace the essence of the Mediterranean Diet, get yourself a fair amount of exercise every day and dine with your family to share food amongst one another. The diet recognizes these as equally important lifestyle elements that have also been shown to contribute to a long, healthy and much happier life.
|↑1||Martínez-González, Miguel A. “Benefits of the Mediterranean diet beyond the Mediterranean Sea and beyond food patterns.” BMC medicine 14, no. 1 (2016): 157.|
|↑2||Research confirms Mediterranean diet is good for the mind. University of Exeter.|
|↑3||Tavani, A., C. Bosetti, C. La Vecchia, D. Serraino, E. Bidoli, F. Levi, M. Filomeno, and M. Montella. “Mediterranean diet and risk of endometrial cancer: a pooled analysis of three Italian case-control studies.” British journal of cancer 112, no. 11 (2015): 1816.|