Fast facts on the Mediterranean diet
There is no single diet called the Mediterranean diet. It consists of the foods from a number of countries and regions including Spain, Greece and Italy.
- The Mediterranean diet is a great way to replace saturated fats in the average American diet.
- There is an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and the natural sources.
- It is associated with good heart health, protection against diseases such as stroke, and prevention of diabetes.
- Moderation is still recommended, as the diet is high in fat.
- The Mediterranean diet should be combined with an active lifestyle for best results.
This is what the Mediterranean diet is made of
The Mediterranean diet focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables – mostly water-based types that keep you hydrated.
- Dairy-based fats are replaced by the vegetable and nut-based oils. Instead of frying, it’s about frying and grilling. Keep this in mind when preparing your Mediterranean meal.
- Fresh fruits such as apples, bananas, figs, dates, grapes and watermelon.
- High consumption of the legumes, beans, nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and cashews.
- Whole grains such as the whole wheat, oats, barley, buckwheat, corn and brown rice.
- Olive oil is the main source of dietary fat along with olives, avocados, and avocado oils.
- Cheese and yogurt are the main dairy products, including Greek yogurt
- Moderate amounts of fish and poultry, such as chicken, duck, turkey, salmon, sardines, and shellfish.
- Limited amounts of red meat and sweets.
- About one glass of wine per day, with water as the main drink of choice and without soft and sweetened drinks.
- Given that the primary focus of the Mediterranean diet is plant foods and natural sources,
The Mediterranean diet contains nutrients such as:
1) Healthy fats
The Mediterranean diet is known to be low in saturated fats and high in monounsaturated fats.
The diet is rich in fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and is believed to reduce the risk of bowel cancer and cardiovascular disease.
3) High content of vitamins and minerals
Fruits and vegetables provide vital vitamins and minerals that regulate the body’s processes. In addition, the presence of lean meat provides vitamins such as B12 that are not found in plant foods.
4) Low sugar
The diet is high in natural sugar rather than added sugar, for example, in fresh fruits.
Added sugar increases calories without nutritional benefit, is linked to diabetes and high blood pressure and occurs in many processed foods not included in the Mediterranean diet.
The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet
a) It keeps the brain healthy
As we age, the brain shrinks and we lose brain cells that can affect learning and memory. Studies show that the Mediterranean diet has a positive effect on brain health.
A Mediterranean diet, consisting of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and fish, may help older adults to retain more brain volume.
b) Promotes heart health
This diet has been shown to reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, mainly due to its positive effects on “bad” cholesterol – oxidized low-density lipoproteins that can build up in plaque in the arteries.
Not only is the food you eat on a Mediterranean diet helps keep your cardiovascular system strong, it’s also what you drink.
Red wine, which the plan encourages in moderation, has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
c) Helps protect against type 2 diabetes
The focus on foods rich in monounsaturated fats and rich in fiber such as fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil is what makes the Mediterranean diet so healthy — and it has been shown to lower blood sugar and cholesterol in diabetics.
Replacing saturated and Tran’s fats with the unsaturated fats show a positive effect on an individual’s insulin sensitivity.
d) It reduces the risk of the Alzheimer’s disease
Many of the benefits offered by this type of nutritional plan include improved cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and the overall health of the blood vessels themselves.
Together, these benefits reduce the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
e) Promotes healthy weight loss
The main way this diet helps people lose weight is that it is easier to stick to in the long run when compared to many other, more restrictive diets.
Since you still eat most of your favorite foods, you will feel full and more likely to keep up.