Diet is a word that often creates anxiety during an upcoming event or holiday. The biggest misconception about dieting is restricting your eating options to foods that don’t appeal to you. However, you can still enjoy your favorite foods while maintaining a healthy lifestyle with the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is influenced by foods from nearby countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. This diet consists of plant-based foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, dairy, poultry, and seafood. The Mediterranean diet’s overall focus is to include nonsaturated fats and avoid processed foods while promoting healthy eating habits.
What foods can I eat?
The following are examples of items you can include in the Mediterranean diet:
- Fruits: Grapes, Apple, Lemons, Strawberries, Peaches, Oranges
- Vegetables: Spinach, Tomatoes, Broccoli, Carrots, Peppers
- Whole Grains: Rice, Pasta, Quinoa, Whole Wheat, Oats
- Lean Meat: Chicken, Duck, Turkey, Lean Beef, Lean Pork
- Seafood: Salmon, Tuna, Shrimp, Sardines, Trout, Cod
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, Chestnuts, Sunflower Seeds, Walnuts
- Beans: Black beans, Pinto Beans, Chickpeas, Lentils
- Healthy oils: Avocado oil, Extra Virgin Olive oil, Sunflower Oil, Coconut Oil
- Dairy: Eggs, Greek Yogurt, Parmesan, Unsweetened Almond Milk, Soy Milk
- Herbs & Species: Ginger, Turmeric, Sage, Thyme, Basil, Bay Leaves
- Beverage: Water, Red Wine, Tea, Coffee, Whole Fresh Juice
The following are items you should limit in your Mediterranean diet:
- Refined Sugars: high consumption can lead to health problems
- Butter: contains high levels of saturated fats; try light butter
- Processed foods: often carries high sodium, calories, and sugar
- Refined Grains: can increase blood sugar levels, low in fiber/nutrient content
- Processed red meat: can increase the risk of a chronic disease
- Hydrogenated oils: can elevate LDL (bad) cholesterol
- Alcohol: excessive use can result in many health issues
An example of a Mediterranean dish can be seen on our Yumlish recipe page here.
What are the health benefits?
According to the U.S News & World Report rankings, the Mediterranean diet is ranked number one in best diets overall in 2022. In addition, studies have shown that there are many health benefits and outcomes with this diet, including:
Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease known for reduced insulin production and insulin resistance compared to Type 1 diabetes. Without the proper amount of insulin, the blood sugar in your body will increase, creating complications. However, according to the American Diabetes Association, a study showed evidence that type 2 diabetics on the Mediterranean diet showed an improvement in their A1C and glucose levels.
Treating Heart Disease
The number one leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease, directly affecting the heart. Heart disease comes in many different forms, but coronary heart disease is the most common. On average, one person passes away every 36 seconds from heart disease. The most common treatment for heart disease is lifestyle changes such as a balanced dietary intake. Research has shown that the Mediterranean diet can reduce the chance of having or obtaining heart disease.
The most common weight loss practice includes exercising and an improved dietary intake. A balanced dietary intake plays a considerable role in weight loss. You can exercise significantly, but you will not lose weight if you do not practice good nutritional patterns. The Mediterranean diet is excellent to help promote weight loss by incorporating healthy fats, fiber, and plant foods. Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet leads to more weight loss than other well-known diets.
In the end
The Mediterranean diet focuses on eating healthy while avoiding unsaturated fats, processed foods, and sugar. Often, it’s hard for people to adapt to specific diets due to cultural foods, restrictions, repetitiveness, and being bland. However, the Mediterranean diet is easy and flexible to incorporate into your daily meals. Not only do you get a more selective selection, but you are also promoting and practicing a healthy lifestyle. Whether you start today or next month, the Mediterranean diet is a flexible diet that anyone can follow.