What Is the Mediterranean Diet?
Along with claiming the title of 'Best Overall Diet' for 2022, the Mediterranean diet ranks as the best diet for healthy eating, easiest diet to follow, the best diet for diabetes, best heart-healthy diet, and best plant-based diet by the US News and World Report. Since 2018, the Mediterranean diet has been ranked as the 'Best Overall Diet' by the expert panel consisting of top nutritionists and specialists in diabetes, heart health, and weight loss.
What Are the Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet?
- It helps decrease depression and dementia as the Mediterranean Diet is rich in antioxidants. ·
- It also diminishes inflammation in the body,
- It reduces blood sugar levels and body mass index. ·
- It reduces cardiovascular diseases and overall mortality.
Moreover, its dietary guidelines encourage people to eat meals together. It also highlights daily physical activity.
When Is the Origin of Mediterranean Diet?
The origin of the Mediterranean diet traces back to the mid-20th century. The dietary traditions of Crete, Greece, and southern Italy were considered beneficial for health. Their people had long lives and low rates of chronic diseases. Thus, the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization issued guidelines in 1993 to help people comprehend the most common foods in the Mediterranean region.
Healthy fats are included in the Mediterranean diet. This diet has dismissed the myth that people with or at risk for heart disease must eat a low-fat diet. It does matter which type of fats we choose; but, the percentage of calories taken from fats is not much of an issue. The Mediterranean diet includes healthy fats such as fatty fish, olive oil, and nuts. Among these, walnuts and fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
What Kind of Carbohydrates and Protein Should Be In the Mediterranean Diet?
It is primarily a plant-based diet comprising a daily intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, herbs, and spices.
- Whole grains include whole oats, whole wheat, whole-grain rye, buckwheat, bulgur wheat (cracked wheat), millet, whole barley, spelt, quinoa, brown rice, corn, popcorn, whole wheat- bread, and whole grain and whole wheat pasta.
- Consume fish and seafood at least twice a week.
- Prefer fish and seafood in animal protein.
- Consume poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt in smaller portions
- Consume them daily or a few times a week.
- Limit red meat, processed meat, and sweets to few times a month.
- Intake of olive oil is an essential element of the Mediterranean diet.
This diet also avoids the use of junk food, fried items, and too many sweets and desserts. Consequently, it provides satiety.
How Much Wine Is Allowed In the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet also allows wine in small amounts. But, it should be kept in mind that frequently drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancer and stroke. While on a Mediterranean diet, you do not need to start drinking wine if you already avoid alcohol. Choose water as a daily beverage. Coffee, tea, green tea, and grapes are also very good alternatives for wine.
How Can You Fit Mediterranean Diet into your Lifestyle Regardless of your Cuisine, Culture, and Region?
People often seem confused regarding what to follow and what to avoid. A simple click will virtually take them into a world of never-ending weight-loss strategies. Not everything you see on the internet relating to health and wellness is true. Nonetheless, numerous researchers have found the Mediterranean diet a healthy lifestyle. Incorporating a Mediterranean diet into your eating plan is not difficult.
Whole Grains: Eating whole grains does not only mean eating bread, rice, oatmeal, crackers, and pasta. You can make whole grains a part of your healthy eating as per your region and culture. You do not have to consume it only in the Italian or French style.
For instance, South Asians can include their chapatti, paratha, poha, dosa, idli made from whole grains. Same goes for the Americans, British, and Philipines or from whichever region one belongs to. You only need to own your cuisine and culture and incorporate the elements of the Mediterranean diet in them.
Take the elements of the Mediterranean Diet and cook in your native style. ·
Whole grains are the least processed making them more nutritious than refined grains. ·
Whole grains contribute to a lower risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, type two diabetes, etc.
Vegetables: Similarly, consuming vegetables does not only mean eating raw and boiled salads. ·
South Asians love to eat their vegetables in the form of curry, which is more nutritious as it contains multiple herbs and spices along with vegetables. · Additionally, many nutrients leach out while boiling vegetables, depriving your body of the rich nutrients it needs.
Protein: Likewise, legumes, beans, fish, and seafood can be prepared in the form of curry or your native style. Boiling is not the only option left. Oil: Replace butter and ghee (clarified butter) with olive oil and other vegetable oils.
Fruits: Moreover, eating fruits does not only mean eating berries. It can be any fruit found in your region.
What Elements Should Be Taken Care of While Adopting the Mediterranean Diet?
Portion size: Portion sizes for each individual are different in context to their physical activity and body size. It must be kept in mind that the Mediterranean diet does not indicate portion sizes, so there is a risk of excess calorie intake.
The Mediterranean diet pyramid or your dietitian may help for more appropriate use. Adopt the Mediterranean-style eating pattern in its entirety: Another important thing that needs emphasizing is that this diet includes several different foods. What people often do is that they themselves eliminate some foods out of the recommended diet or the diet plan and choose to focus only on single foods. ·
Thus, to benefit more from the Mediterranean diet, it is vital to eat recommended foods in combinations rather than focusing only on single foods or nutrients. It is important to follow the Mediterranean diet in its entirety. For instance, if one only adds olive oil or nuts to one's current diet, it will not prove to be too much beneficial against certain diseases. Therefore, according to NCBI, one is required to adopt the Mediterranean-style eating pattern as a whole.