The Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean diet

It is most people’s life goal to be healthy. This goal in life is one that we all share, but did you know that according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) an estimated 99 million people in the United States alone are overweight, 70 million of them being classified as clinically obese. In England, The Health Survey for England 2019 estimated that over 3.6 million adults in England are overweight, 1.6 million of them clinically obese. 

These are disconcertingly large numbers and in a world where everyone wants to be healthy, but a lot of us are not, it is no surprise that there is a mass amount of viral dieting techniques you can find on the internet. A lot of them are extreme diets that might make you lose weight but do not improve your overall health, and the other half simply don’t actually help you lose weight. 

This is where the Mediterranean diet steps in. The Mediterranean diet is a very popular diet that gained popularity in the 1950s when health professionals in The United States took note of the fact that heart disease was much less common in Mediterranean countries. This diet has actually been studied scientifically and proven to be the healthiest way of eating and specifically effective for the prevention of heart disease and stroke. 

Health Benefits

Mediterranean diet

The reason why it is most famous for its benefits in decreasing the risk of heart disease is that when you follow this diet, you end up lowering levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and reducing mortality from cardiovascular conditions. It’s also been credited with a lower likelihood of certain cancers, like breast cancer, as well as conditions like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. 

This diet doesn’t only help with a gradual and healthy form of weight loss that actually sticks, but it is highly beneficial for longevity. 

Just as the name suggests, this diet consists of a heart-healthy eating pattern that includes the traditional food staples and healthy eating habits of people who live in the countries around the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece, Croatia, and Italy. You’ll find that in their meals, they emphasize a plant-based eating approach loaded with vegetables and healthy fats, including olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids from fish. 

On this plan, you’ll limit or avoid red meat, sugary foods, and dairy (though small amounts like yogurt and cheese are included).

What Can You Eat?

The Mediterranean diet focuses on eating clean, attempting to reduce the horrible eating habits of processed and sugary foods a majority of the western world has adopted. If you adopt this eating plan, you will have little room for processed fare. When you look at a plate that follows a Mediterranean cuisine, it should be bursting with color from fresh fruits and veg, whereas traditional proteins like chicken tend to be more of a side dish compared with produce, the main event.

This dieting style enriches your diet by being high in:

  • Fish
  • Poultry 
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Cereals
  • Grains
  • Unsaturated fats such as olive oil
  • Wine 

It typically excludes processed foods such as red meat, sugar, and dairy products. 

The Mediterranean diet is famous for lowering cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of blood clots, stroke, and heart failure. This is due to how it deals with fats. The Mediterranean diet cuts out most unhealthy fats and replaces them with olive oil, fish, and nuts, all of which are known for reducing the risks of the health issues mentioned above.  

One of the best things about the Mediterranean diet is that it is very easy to stick to. Most fad diets are so restrictive that it takes an incredible amount of discipline and self-control to actually follow them. You end up having all sorts of cravings and eventually quit due to its restrictive nature. 

If you are struggling, however, you could always consult with a dietician. They have one of the only self employed jobs in the healthcare system that is affordable and you only need to see them once or twice to make sure you stay on track.

 

This couldn’t be further from the truth when looking at the Mediterranean diet. On this diet, you can eat all of the things you love. With such a variety of whole, fresh foods available to you as options, it’s easy to build both simple and easy or creative and interesting meals based on the diet. And you don’t have to eliminate your favorites, either, just tweak them a little. For example, rather than a sausage and pepperoni pizza, choose one with chicken and veggies instead.

Its Weaknesses

Mediterranean diet

One concern to keep in mind when considering trying out the Mediterranean diet is that ironically, even though it’s known for reaching the risk of heart failure if you focus heavily on the fat-filled side of this diet, you could gain some weight. This is easily avoidable by eating the full balance and variety that this diet offers, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much. 

 

One issue that could turn some people off of this diet is that milk products are very limited. If you’re big on eating a lot of milk and rely on it to get all the calcium you need, when you start the Mediterranean diet you could potentially face a rapid decrease in calcium as a side effect due to cutting out dairy. However, the Mediterranean diet includes cheese and yogurt as well as other calcium-rich products like almond milk, sardines, kale, and tofu.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.