The Mediterranean Diet is more than a diet, it is a way of life. Instead of focusing on what you cannot have, it focuses on what you can have — the very best, freshest, healthiest foods.
Research supports the health boosting qualities of the Mediterranean diet. This way of life can significantly decrease body weight, blood pressure, blood fats, blood sugar and insulin levels — health benefits that contribute to a longer life expectancy than that of people who follow a Western diet.
Basic ingredients of the mediterranean diet
Fresh, healthy food
The staples of the Mediterranean diet include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, seafood, yogurt, olive oil, and small amounts of wine.
found in olive oil, nuts, avocados and polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, and trout; and fat from plant sources, like flaxseed and chia seeds.
Whole grain foods like bread, pasta, millet, quinoa, brown rice, and couscous are a key part of the Mediterranean diet. In their natural state, grains are full of cancer and heart disease-fighting fiber, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Whole grains provide energy and calories with little fat.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Found in abundance in the Mediterranean diet, omega-3 fatty acids are bursting with health benefits. Fatty acids have been shown to reduce the incidence of heart attacks, blood clots, hypertension, and strokes; and may prevent certain forms of cancer and lower the risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
More vegetables, less meat
A diet higher in plant foods and lower in animal products has been linked to decreased incidence of heart disease, diabetes, and many cancers. The traditional Mediterranean diet is practically vegetarian, with lots of fish and very little meat. As for vegetables, Mediterranean people feast on tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, capers, spinach, eggplant, mushrooms, white beans, lentils, and chick peas.
Many Mediterranean people drink a glass or two of wine each night with dinner. But portions are small, generally about three ounces. When taken in small amounts, wine has been linked to lower rates of heart disease, likely due to the presence of antioxidants like transresveratrol and oligomeric proanthocyanidin, which keep blood circulation healthy and prevent blood clots from forming.
The Mediterranean people use olive oil in almost everything they eat, including pastas, breads, vegetables, salads, and fish. It is the principal fat in the Mediterranean diet, instead of butter or margarine. Olive oil may reduce inflammation, which could prevent heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune diseases, as well as certain cancers.
The Mediterranean diet focuses on small portions of high-quality food. Healthy fats like olive oil and nuts, are staples of the Mediterranean diet and keep you feeling fuller longer.
Fruit for dessert
For Mediterranean people, fresh fruit is the typical daily dessert. Taking advantage of fruit’s natural sweetness has double benefits. First, what you gain: the fiber and nutrients in fruits like apples, grapes, and oranges. What you lose: the added sugar, calories, chemicals, and unhealthy fats in sweet, processed desserts.
In addition to eating healthy meals, the Mediterranean people spend a great deal of time walking. When you can, include exercise, laughter, and spending time with loved ones in your day.