What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The principles of the Mediterranean diet are based on the eating habits of the population around the Mediterranean Sea (France, Italy, Spain, Greece, etc.). This diet includes far fewer restrictions than other diets, which is why it is even easier to follow. Here’s what you need to know:
The Mediterranean diet focuses on good fats and recommends consuming olive oil, avocado, nuts, salmon and sardines, rich in Omega-3, and avoiding products such as butter and margarine.
It is based on the frequent consumption of fish and seafood, vegetables, seasonal fruits and vegetables and whole grains and provides moderate consumption of eggs, dairy and chicken. Red meat is only occasionally included in the menu.
Regarding the recommended drinks, the Mediterranean diet considers quality water as the primary liquid and accepts moderate consumption of red wine at the table (1-2 glasses per day for men, 1 glass per day for women).
Mediterranean Diet – Benefits
Studies over the years indicate that the Mediterranean diet has positive effects on health, directly contributing to:
- Reducing inflammation in the body
- Balancing blood pressure and blood sugar levels
- Decrease the risk of developing insulin resistance
- Reduction of deposits on arteries
- Bodyweight balancing
- Lowering bad cholesterol
- Improving memory, attention and speed of cognitive processing and decreasing the risk of dementia
- Supporting heart health.
Mediterranean Diet – Food Pyramid
In 1993, Oldways, the Harvard School of Public Health and the European Office of the World Health Organization developed a guide to familiarize the population with the peculiarities of the Mediterranean diet, a diet with apparent beneficial effects.
One of the results of this project was the pyramid of the Mediterranean diet which visually illustrates the basic principles of the diet.
The most important elements are located at the base and those that must be included in the diet with a lower frequency are present at the top of the pyramid.
In addition to the principles related to the food itself, the Mediterranean diet focuses on family meals, social interaction, free time and relaxation, physical activity.
Step by Step Mediterranean Diet
Unlike other diets you may have tried, the Mediterranean diet does not have strict rules about portions. It is based on a few fundamental principles about how often you should eat certain foods.
Fish and seafood are essential sources of healthy protein and fat for those who adopt a Mediterranean diet, especially herring, sardines and salmon, rich in omega-3.
Vegetables, Greens, Fruits and Cereals
Consume frequently (at most meals) vegetables, greens, fruits, whole grains. Provides an essential supply of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Choose whole grains (wheat, oats, barley, rye, rice, corn) cooked as simple as possible to preserve nutrients.
You can include in the diet: pasta, wholemeal bread, couscous, oatmeal, polenta, farro, bulgur, buckwheat, etc. Eat as many vegetables and greens as possible and complete with olive oil to enhance the absorption of nutrients: artichokes, zucchini, broccoli, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, pumpkin pie, mushrooms, carrots, celery root, leeks, onions (green, white, red, salad), potatoes, radishes, turnips, sweet potato, beets, celery, arugula, chicory, dandelion leaves, mustard leaves, fennel, cabbage (white, red, Brussels sprouts), kale, salad, nettles, fat grass, spinach, peas, avocado, tomatoes.
Fruits are an excellent source of energy, vitamins and minerals, consumed without added sugar, whole or in the form of natural juice, including pulp: apples, apricots, cherries, clementines, figs, dates, grapefruit, grapes, melons, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pears, pomegranates, strawberries, tangerines.