It is the way of eating which makes the difference and not one group of all-encompassing foods, although naturally it consists primarily of fruits and vegetables. However, there are still proteins and carbohydrates that will be eaten, but by default, the quantity of these are very small in comparison.
Essentially, this is not really a diet, but a do- follow, for the way they eat in the Mediterranean, and there should be foods that are limited, or avoided.
- Fruit and Vegetables – All types
- Spices and Herbs – All types
- Beans and Legumes – All types
- Good Fats and Oils – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Olives, Avocado Oil
- Fish and Seafood, especially: Mackerel, Sardines, and Salmon, as they have a high source of Omega-3.
Note: only use Extra Virgin Olive oil which has been extracted by the pressing of olives, because some other olive oils are actually extracted after this first pressing and with the use of chemicals.
- Eggs, poultry, cheese and yogurt
- Greek yogurt is an exception, it has less sugar and contains more protein than normal yogurt, and it can also be frozen and eaten like ice cream
Less Frequent Eating
Things to Avoid
- Sugars and Added Sugars – Sugar for tea and coffee, sodas, Candies and ice cream
- Refined Grains – Foods made from refined wheats, white bread, pasta etc.
- Processed Foods – Ready meals, or anything that is labeled as diet or low fat.
- Processed Meats – Hot dogs or sausages etc.
- Trans Fats – These are found in processed foods and margarine.
- Refined Oils – Canola oil, Soybean oil etc.
As you can see, the range of foods can be quite comprehensive and should not really cause a problem when shopping for groceries. In essence, it is only processed foods and anything that has added sweeteners that should be avoided altogether. One thing that has not been mentioned is alcohol, and due to the way they eat in the Mediterranean, a glass or two of red wine per day has proven medical benefits. Only in simple moderation, otherwise there can be consequences instead of benefits.
Actual Health Benefits:
The Mediterranean Diet is an ideal way to lose weight naturally, and it is highly adaptable to the way you wish to live. Also, it is important to remember that most saturated fats and carbohydrates are limited, which increases the amount of protein consumed.
Diabetes and Heart Disease
The diet is rich in fiber and slows down digestion, so this will decrease the chance of sugar spikes and the amount of insulin which is produced. Additionally, it also helps to lower cholesterol that can help reduce the chances of strokes and heart disease.
Free Radicals and Illnesses
The diet is very good at reducing free radical damage, as most of the toxins come from pollution and processed foods, which are now avoided. So, the number of antioxidants in the fruits and vegetables has now been increased, and this will enable the body to produce more oxygen-rich blood, and the new cells can help repair the free radical damaged ones. This occurs whilst creating new ones.
As a result, the amount of inflammation within the body will be greatly reduced, and this can help in the prevention of ailments and disease like arthritis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and cancer. If the diet is followed in conjunction with an exercise plan, there is a chance that bone deterioration and muscle loss can also be improved, and this is especially important in seniors.
When following the diet, it is advisable to plan your meals one week at a time, so this way you are able to control the intake of red meats, and any other things that should be limited. These you can save for special occasions, or for dining out with friends or family.
As a result of eating much healthier, your energy levels will start to improve, and this should lead to more agility and mobility. Also, this is also important for seniors who would normally be prone to falling resulting in injury. All in all, the Mediterranean Diet can provide a very healthy way of living, as it introduces many good eating habits and can be followed for many years to come. A long term plan for health.
Maria Banfield is a blogger. She enjoys writing health and nutrition topics to share with her readers. She currently writes for the leading website Fitandheal.com