Mediterranean Diet
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Mediterranean diet where to start?

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Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean diets are full of flavorful fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats. As well as being delicious, it is also nutrient-rich.

There are also several benefits associated with this food, such as promoting heart health, managing blood sugar levels, and supporting brain function.

There are no formal guidelines for how to follow the Mediterranean diet, but you can incorporate its principles into your daily routine by following some general guidelines.

This article will further lead you to know in detail what actually a Mediterranean diet is and what are the ways to follow it in your daily routine to get the most out of it for your health.

Where is the Mediterranean diet from?

Nutrition has been found to play a major role in promoting health and well-being. In terms of promoting both, the Mediterranean diet is much more beneficial. Well, the term came from the regions located near the Mediterranean sea. Traditional Mediterranean foods were eaten in France, Spain, Greece, and Italy, as well as many other countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Does this diet offer any benefits?

The health benefits of this type of diet are as plentiful as one can ever imagine. In addition to their exceptional health, researchers noted that these people were unlikely to suffer from many chronic ailments. 

Does this diet include any specific foods?

The Mediterranean diet is itself very nutritious as it is a combination of all the healthy food items such as:

  • whole grains, 
  • fruits, 
  • vegetables, 
  • legumes, 
  • nuts, 
  • seeds, 
  • heart-healthy fats.

Mediterranean Diet: Potential benefits on health

Numerous health benefits have been associated with the Mediterranean diet.

Cardiovascular health is promoted

Researchers have extensively studied the Mediterranean diet for its heart-health-promoting properties.

Mediterranean diets have even been found to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Several studies have compared the effects of the Mediterranean diet with low-fat diets and have shown that the Mediterranean diet is more effective in preventing the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which is a contributing factor to heart disease.

Several studies have also shown the Mediterranean diet is beneficial for heart health by lowering diastolic and systolic blood pressure.

Blood sugar levels are supported by this supplement

Foods high in nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats, are encouraged in the Mediterranean diet.

By following this eating pattern, blood sugar levels can be stabilized and type 2 diabetes may be prevented.

Several studies have demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet can significantly reduce fasting blood sugar levels and improve haemoglobin A1C, a blood sugar control marker over the long term.

Additionally, a Mediterranean diet is shown to decrease insulin resistance, a condition characterized by a reduced body’s ability to use insulin for blood sugar regulation.

Keeps the brain functioning properly

In various studies, it has been suggested that a Mediterranean diet might improve brain health and even prevent the decline of cognitive function as we age.

In other studies, the Mediterranean diet has been linked with a lower risk of cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Further, one review found that Mediterranean diets can boost cognitive function and improve memory, attention, and processing speed in older adults.

Here’s how it’s done

Follow these steps if you want to follow a Mediterranean diet:

Eat in Quantity: One must eat foods with high nutritional value and these food items include the following:

  • Whole Grains
  • Fruits
  • Leafy Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Herbs
  • Spices
  • Fish
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Seafood

Eat in Moderate Quantity: These include the food items that one must eat in moderate quantities, such as:

  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Poultry
  • Eggs

Eat but in the least Quantity: The food items which should be consumed by an individual occasionally only include:

  • Beverages that are sugar-sweetened
  • Red meat
  • Processed food
  • Refined grains
  • Added sugar items
  • Refined oils

Foods that are part of a Mediterranean diet

Mediterranean diet foods are controversial, partly because of country-specific variations.

Various studies have shown that this diet is mainly characterized by the following:

  • Plant-based food: Recommended to eat in high quantity.
  • Animal products and meat: recommended to eat in moderate quantities.
  • Seafood: Recommended to eat in the very least quantity or once or twice a month. 

The aforementioned meals are a part of the lifestyle which is followed by the Mediterranean people. Along with this, there are many other factors that are responsible for their healthful living such as:

  • Physical activities: People are very much engaged in daily basis physical activities.
  • Meal-sharing: It is a very common practice that is followed by these people. They share their meal with other people around them. In this way, they get to know each other better and their friend circle gets wide.

Indulging in such activities helps them in living a healthy lifestyle as these activities minimize their stress level and make them live longer and without any chronic diseases.

How should a Mediterranean diet be followed? What foods should be consumed from what categories?

Following is the list of foods under various categories that one can follow:

Whole Grains: A healthy body weight is easier to maintain when you eat grains, which are naturally rich in fiber. In addition to lowering heart disease risks and diabetes risks, whole grains may also lower cancer risks. The whole grains food items include:

  • Oats, 
  • Brown rice,  
  • Barley, 
  • Corn, 
  • Buckwheat, 
  • Pasta, 
  • Rye

Leafy Green Vegetables: A healthy diet should be rich in leafy green vegetables. Their high nutritional value and low caloric content make them an excellent source of nutrition. Moreover, they provide numerous health benefits such as cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, obesity etcetera.

  • Broccoli, 
  • Turnips  
  • Potatoes, 
  • Sweet potatoes,
  • Kale
  • Spinach, 
  • Onions, 
  • Cauliflower, 
  • Tomatoes, 
  • Carrots, 
  • Cucumbers

Legumes: Legumes produce carbohydrates that help in providing steady energy to the body, brain, and nervous system. Moreover, making legumes a part of your healthy diet routine will protect your body against many diseases such as low blood sugar levels, blood pressure, heart diseases, and diabetes.

These include foods such as:

  • Beans,
  • Chickpeas,
  • Lentils,  
  • Pulses, 
  • Peas, 
  • Peanuts 

Fruits: Fruits are generally rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Eating an abundant diet of fruits can help a person prevent cardiovascular disease, the risk of diabetes, cancer, and inflammation. Some great fruits are listed below:

  • Apples, 
  • Pears, 
  • Strawberries, 
  • Grapes,
  • Bananas, 
  • Oranges,
  • Melons, 
  • Peaches,
  • Dates,
  • Figs.

Nuts & Seeds: The nutritional value of nuts, seeds, and other seeds is high. They contain protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Besides regulating body weight, nuts and seeds help burn energy and regulate food intake. Following are examples of nuts & seeds:

  • Almonds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Walnuts
  • Cashews

Herbs & Spices: The properties of spices and herbs include anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, glucose- and cholesterol-lowering abilities, antitumorigenic, anticarcinogenic, as well as mood and cognition-enhancing properties. Some of the examples of healthful herbs and spices are as follows:

  • Basil, 
  • Garlic,
  • Cinnamon, 
  • Pepper
  • Mint, 
  • Rosemary, 
  • Nutmeg

Healthy Fats:  The dietary fats you consume provide your body with energy and support the function of your cells. Furthermore, they help keep you warm and protect your organs. In addition to absorbing nutrients, fats are also responsible for producing important hormones. Some of the examples of healthy fat items are as follows:

  • Olives & extra virgin olive oil, 
  • Avocados & avocado oil

Fish and seafood: Besides omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins (D and B2), fish is a great source of calcium and phosphorus, as well as iodine, magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium. Below are examples of some of the best fish and seafood:

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Tuna
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Oysters
  • Crab
  • Shrimp
  • Clams

Poultry: Human bodies benefit from the nutrients and vitamins found in poultry. It is a good source of protein, and vitamin B, as well as zinc, iron, and magnesium. Below are examples of poultry that one can consume:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Duck

Dairy: Consumption of daily products helps strengthen the bones. Various nutrients such as Vitamin D, Protein, Potassium, and Calcium are present in dairy products in high quantities. Following are examples of a few dairy products:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese

Food items that should be limited

One should limit the consumption of the following listed food items:

Refined grains: A higher risk of major cardiovascular diseases, strokes, and death can be linked to consuming excessive amounts of refined grains. The main food items associated with refined grains are 

  • Croissants
  • White bread
  • Other foods are:
  • Chips
  • Pasta
  • Tortillas
  • Crackers

Added Sugar: The bacteria that cause tooth decay multiply and grow when sugar is consumed in high quantities. Adding too much sugar to your diet may raise your triglyceride levels, which could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Following are the food items that contain added sugars:

  • Soda
  • Candies
  • Syrup
  • Packed Juice

Trans fats: Trans fats in the body raise the level of bad cholesterol i.e. LDL while lowering the level of good cholesterol i.e. HDL. It directly affects your heart and increases the chances of type 2 diabetes. Trans fats are mostly found in foods like:

  • Processed food items
  • Margarine
  • Fried Food Items

Refined oils: Overconsumption of refined cooking oils adversely impacts lung health and makes aging harder. Some of the examples are:

  • Canola Oil
  • Soyabean Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Cottonseed Oil

Highly Processed Foods: Highly processed food items have added sugar and fat in them which can make your food taste better but adversely affect your health. The health issues triggered by this type of food item are obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Following is an example of heavily processed food items:

  • Convenience Meals
  • Fast Food

Mediterranean food to buy

Whole foods are typically found at the perimeter of the store, so shop there instead. Always go for food that is highly rich in nutrients such as leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, nuts & seeds, and legumes.

Here we got some of the items from the Mediterranean diet bucket that you should definitely include in your list:

  • Fresh vegetables or frozen vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, garlic, broccoli, spinach, kale, peas, and mushrooms.
  • Tubers such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, and yams.
  • Grains such as whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, brown rice, and oats.
  • Nuts & seeds such as almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Fruits such as oranges, bananas, apples, grapes, melons, pears, strawberries, and blueberries.
  • Legumes such as beans (kidney & black), lentils, and chickpeas.
  • Dairy products such as yogurt and milk.
  • Seafood like trout shrimp, salmon, and sardines.
  • Poultry foods like chicken, turkey, and duck.
  • Healthy fats such as olives & extra virgin olive oil, and avocadoes & avocados oil

Beverages for the Mediterranean diet.

WATER

No matter what diet you follow, water is a staple in your daily life. In addition to rehydrating your body, water does not contain calories. 

Despite their inclusion in our list, the other drinks shouldn’t replace your daily water intake on the Mediterranean diet. 

TEA

While following the Mediterranean diet, it’s fine to drink tea. Adding milk to tea is acceptable but adding sugar should be avoided if one already has a sweet tooth.

COFFEE

Coffee as a part of beverages in the Mediterranean diet is very famous in many countries including Greece, Italy, and Spain. Researchers have found that coffee consumption improves cognitive function for a short period of time, reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, and lowers the risk of liver disease. As well as providing plenty of antioxidants, coffee is a great energy booster without requiring any sugar. 

High-quantity caffeine intake, however, can make you anxious at times or can lead to sleep disorders.

RED WINE

One can count on red wine while following this diet. In addition to meeting the diet’s requirements for a low-carb diet and heart-healthy drinks, the Mediterranean diet allows for alcoholic beverages. It can be used in cooking or a moderate amount can be consumed with a meal. 

DAIRY PRODUCTS

One can go with drinking milk as a part of their Mediterranean diet which includes cow milk, almond milk, soymilk etcetera. Moreover, the consumption of yogurt and cheese is also acceptable.

SMOOTHIES

Smoothies can be consumed by people following the Mediterranean diet, however, should be in moderate quantities with no added sugar.

 

Myths about the Mediterranean diet

There are a few myths about a Mediterranean diet which are mentioned below:

  1. Too expensive: If your Mediterranean diet is the only plant-based and whole grains, it is reasonable as compared to that of processed foods which is packed a long time ago.
  2. Eating in large quantity: There is usually no large plate full of pasta and pieces of bread consumed by Mediterranean people. They don’t eat that way; it is just a misconception. The dishes on their plate include vegetables, salads, fish, a slice of bread, and pasta (as a side dish).
  3. It’s about food only: Inevitably, food is considered a significant part of the diet but there are other factors also that play a great role in Mediterranean health. While eating they take time and enjoy the meal properly. No one sits in front of the TV while eating.

In addition, they usually engage in a wide range of physical activities throughout the day.

  • Drinking Red wine in excess: Although red wine is well known to be beneficial for the heart, excessive consumption is not recommended. There are adverse effects on the heart when too much red wine is consumed.

What does Healthierfolks want to say?

The Mediterranean diet is considered as one of the healthiest diets in the world due to its numerous health benefits for the human body. Along with providing health benefits, it also immunes you from various ailments such as cardiovascular disease, blood sugar levels, brain functionality, and many other diseases. 

This is all because this diet is mainly focused on plant-based food items. Additionally, fish and seafood are considered important too. One doesn’t have to bind himself or herself to strict to the one way only to consume these foods. Instead, different recipes can be made on the basis of your interest or liking. 

The basic things that one must keep in mind to follow a Mediterranean diet are that one should:

  • Stay away from processed and packed food items.
  • Stick to vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
  • Say no to added sugar drinks.
  • Consume some dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese.
  • Share your meals with others.
  • Try not to sit in front of the Television while eating instead try to sit with other family members and enjoy the meal properly.
  • Breakfast is very necessary, so try not to avoid even a single day.
  • Avoid the consumption of red meat.
  • Stick to olive oil in your food preparation.
  • Go for whole grain bread.
  • Spices such as bay leaves, coriander,  pepper, cilantro,  cinnamon rosemary, and garlic can be included in the food.

Nevertheless, it is mandatory to follow the way they live their lives. Yes, the Mediterranean lifestyle is highly recommended as a healthy lifestyle. As these people along with consuming healthy meals also get indulge in various physical activities which improve the functioning of their bodies.

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  1. […] Mediterranean diets are full of flavorful fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats. As well as it is nutrient-rich.  […]

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