When you find a good diet like this one, which also earned First Place from U.S. News And World Report, it’s hard to stop talking about it…What a delicious way to eat-The Mediterranean Diet!
You just can’t ignore its benefits.
As early as 1993, Harvard Medical School released the results of research that studied the diets of those countries bordering on the Mediterranean.
- Their findings suggested that fat and carbohydrates were NOT the main culprits in obesity and heart disease, but rather that the RIGHT fats and carbohydrates should be the base for a healthy diet.
The study highlighted the low rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease throughout the region as proof of their recommendations.
But, this is no “caveman” diet.
The Mediterranean Diet, based on the eating habits of the people in places like Spain, Greece, and Italy, is pretty unrestricted and is simply focused on using fresh food sources and not refined or processed foods.
- This way of eating encourages the use of extra virgin olive oil, fresh fruits, and vegetables, unrefined grains, plenty of fish, a moderate amount of meat, dairy products and of course…a little bit of wine.
While research shows very small incidences of heart disease and related health issues in the Mediterranean region, compared to the U.S., some have expressed concern about the high-fat content in this diet.
- What we’ve learned, however, is that the “high-fat content” of this diet is made up of the type of fat that is beneficial to our health in general, and can also contribute to the health of our skin and improve our moods. In other words, it’s made up of healthy fats.
The healthy ingredients in the Mediterranean Diet also make the food more filling, satisfying the appetite for much longer, which naturally reduces our risks of overeating.
- The diet is filled with nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants
Getting rid of refined and processed foods means our bodies are able to partition the food we eat, reducing those insulin spikes and crashes, commonly known as the “sugar high” or “sugar rush.”
Eating this way means fewer hunger pangs and more energy.
All of the ingredients you’ll use will help lower your cholesterol and keep the blood flow to the heart at a normal level, considerably reducing the risk of heart disease.
General Guidelines of The Mediterranean Diet
1. 60% Of Total Carbohydrates From Grains, Fruits, And Vegetables. Those include:
- Whole rice
- Fresh vegetables and fruits
- Whole grain bread and cereals, polenta, pasta (made with whole grain, not refined white flour)
2. Use of red meat, fish, and poultry, sparingly
- The “typical adult” Mediterranean consumes about 15 ounces of red meat and poultry per week.
3. Another 5-15 ounces of fish per week account for the bulk of their meat protein intake.
Compare that to the typical American diet which might include a 1 pound steak for dinner one night, a 1/2 pound chicken breast the next, etc.
4.Extra Virgin Olive Oil
While olive oil is not a miracle oil, It is mono-unsaturated – a good fat.
- Mono-unsaturated fats help lower cholesterol instead of raising it, and are healthy ways to add fats to your diet.
And yes, even though we think of fat as a dirty word, your body does need some, otherwise, it can’t use many of the vitamins you feed it!
5. The other important part of the Mediterranean lifestyle is activity.
- The typical Mediterranean day includes walking instead of driving, physical activity in the fields or the home and recreation.
Out of all the recommendations about getting and staying healthy, one fact always remains true:
Physical activity is vital in helping the body to lose weight, and to support your new weight once you reach it.
- The secret to losing weight with the Mediterranean diet is to base your meals on healthy carbohydrates – leafy green vegetables, brightly colored vegetables, whole grains, and cheese.
- Use meat sparingly – no more than 3-6 ounces per day.
- Get the needed dietary fat from vegetable sources – or from fish oil.
- Exercise regularly to rev up your metabolism.
The Mediterranean diet is not a weight loss regimen. It’s a new-old way of eating that will help you reach your goal weight and stay there. It’s a safe, wholesome way to supply your body with the nutrients it needs to keep you alive.
Here Are Some Sample Menu Items:
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and toast
- Eggs are a vital part of this way of eating, primarily because they contain just the right blend of protein, zinc, iron and vitamin B.
There are lots of ways to make eggs a part of breakfast, be it an omelet loaded with vegetables, scrambled eggs or egg white dishes, depending on what you prefer.
However, it is important that you do not use bacon grease or animal fat to fry them.
Add a slice or two of whole wheat non-buttered toast on the side to complement your meal in the best way possible.
Cereal And Fruits
- Eating a bowl of whole-grain cereal (not refined) with some low-fat milk (Skim, 1% or 2%) can serve as the ideal carbohydrate intake to start your day.
- Add a large bowl of chopped fruits including strawberries, pineapples, and bananas to meet your necessary dose of calcium, Vitamin A, zinc and vitamin C…while increasing your adult life expectancy and reducing your risks for diseases of the heart.
Yogurt and Apricot
The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes the use of low-fat dairy products.
- Plain Greek yogurt can be used as an easy substitute for your regular yogurt or as sour cream (you can spice it up) and it has almost twice the amount of protein your body needs to keep your energy levels up throughout the day.
- Ripe apricot acts as a natural anti-oxidant and can be topped with honey and roasted nuts for added goodness.
Whole Grain Pancakes
Whole grains are rich in essential fibers, proteins and healthy antioxidants that cut your risk of cancer, heart diseases, muscular degradation, and strokes. It also boosts the immune system.
Pancakes combined with grated, chopped or mashed vegetables and fruits such as blueberries, zucchini, bananas, sweet potatoes, apple, carrots, cranberries, and raisins increase the nutrient value. Slap on some maple syrup for the deliciousness.
Lunch: Sandwiches and Smoothies:
- Use Rosemary Focaccia bread, a kind of Italian bread containing no saturated fat or cholesterol and is high in Vitamin B12, for preparing sandwiches.
- Add a thin slice of **goat cheese, fresh tomato and sprinkle with basil for the perfect Mediterranean Diet sandwich for your breakfast meal.
**Goat cheese is low sodium and low-calorie and takes care of bowel health.
- Put it together with your healthy sandwich by adding a large glass of a homemade smoothie using fresh, naturally sweetened fruits and low-fat milk or water.
If you really want a health boost, add a pinch of flax-seed…you won’t taste it, but the benefits will convince you. Add ice cubes and you’re ready to go.
I could give you dozens of recipes for dinners, but I have something even better! Follow these links for delicious meals you and your family will love.
Health is a family affair. Change the recipes around to suit your tastes, just be sure to follow the basic principles listed above.
Choose to eat well. Choose to be healthy. Choose YOU.
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COMING UP NEXT: Review Of The D-A-S-H DIET