What Is It?
The Mediterranean Diet is not a diet per say but an eating pattern. It is based off of the style of eating that comes from the many countries that lay along the Mediterranean Sea. There are twenty three countries that are considered Mediterranean. All of these countries eat different foods in different ways. So there is no structured diet or rules when eating this way. Just commonly consumed foods.
Why Is It So Popular?
This diet became popular as a healthy way to prevent disease. The populations that live near the Mediterranean Sea have a much lower rate of chronic disease. These include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancers and pre mature death to name a few. These rate were much lower than those of North American rates of chronic disease. They also have a much lower rate of obesity than North Americans do.
It was discovered that the reasoning for these lower rates of chronic disease was massively due to how these different countries eat. Even though these countries have their own style of eating and foods they commonly choose. They have a few things in common and this is where the diet has its benefits for disease prevention and weight loss.
What Does It Include?
Foods that make up the bulk of eating in a Mediterranean way are: Vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grain, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil. These are the food you should eat the most of. It is very plant forward. Eating these foods in large amounts give you tones of helpful nutrients. Vitamin and mineral rich foods like these help promote good health.
They do not exclude any food groups so this is a very easy adaptable eating pattern. Along with all these foods listed above they also encourage poultry, eggs, chees and yogurt in moderation. Red meat can be a rare treat if you want. Omnivores and vegetarians can easily make the change to eating a Mediterranean Diet.
One of the reasons that this eating pattern is so beneficial in preventing disease and obesity are the foods they suggest to avoid. Sugar sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meats, refined grains, refined oils, processed foods and trans fats. These foods are commonly linked to chronic disease and promote unhealthy weight gain. By avoiding these foods and including lots of whole foods. Replacing unhealthy fats with healthy fats. The Mediterranean diet is a great way to eat if you want to live a healthy long life.
Heart Disease Prevention
Heart disease is the most common chronic disease in North America. The rates of heart disease are alarmingly high in North America and climbing. Mediterranean countries are well known for having lower rates of chronic heart disease. This is due to the foods they commonly consume. Health professionals were the ones that promoted this type of eating here in North America. They promoted it as a way to help those that may be suffering of heart disease. Or those that might be on their way to heart issues. The American Heart Association encourages the Mediterranean Diet as a way to better an individuals health.
Extra virgin olive oil is used as the primary fat in the Mediterranean diet. When you swap unhealthy fats such as trans fats or saturated fats with healthy fats like olive oil (a monounsaturated fat) there are endless health benefits. One of the biggest is the benefits for our heart health. When we consume healthier fats our body has the ability to remove excess cholesterol from arteries. Less accumulates as a result as well.
Extra virgin olive oil, fish, seafood, nuts and seeds all contain healthy fats. Some of them also contain essential fatty acids Omega-6 and Omega-3. These are proven to be beneficial for heart health, brain health and longevity.
Living A Mediterranean Life…With Food
A day for someone eating a Mediterranean diet would look like. Breakfast, Omelet with tomatoes and onions, and a piece of fruit. Lunch a whole grain sandwich with vegetables and cheese. Dinner a vegetable lasagna. If you enjoy wine, red wine is encouraged in moderation. Eating fish two times a week. Having social sharing meals with friends and family. Usually only three meals a day but if your hungry in-between meals common snacks include. Handful of nuts, piece of fruit, vegetables and hummus, berries, Greek yogurt just to name a few. They also encourage light activity to help digest and have healthy movement in the body.
If you are looking for weight loss The Mediterranean Diet is very helpful because of its encouragement of eating whole healthy foods. But portion control, calories defect and exercise are needed for weight loss. The foods included in this eating pattern encourage healthy food choices. These can help you reach your nutrition goals and help with disease prevention. It is a very healthy choice for anyone looking for a new eating pattern.
If you want to talk about your current eating pattern send me an email at [email protected] or click the link below. We offer a free consultation to chat about your nutrition goals.
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