Those of you who either know or follow me are fully aware that I’m a diehard advocate for the Mediterranean style of eating and I’m not at all alone. In fact, the Mediterranean diet itself has become increasingly popular among scientists, physicians and health enthusiasts around the world. Unsurprisingly so, as eating this way has repeatedly been shown to bolster weight loss, support long-term weight management and reduce the risk of a wide range of chronic diseases.
Let me first emphasize that the Mediterranean diet isn’t a dieting plan like Paleo, Atkins or South Beach. This style of eating simply refers to the general food patterns adopted by people living in southern Europe including France, Spain, Greece and Italy. In truth, adding the word “diet” is nothing more than a marketing tactic used by Western or “Westernized” experts in an effort to sell books.
Traditionally, the Mediterranean style of eating emphasizes increased consumption of monounsaturated fat sources like olive oil supplemented by even greater intakes of vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grain-rich foods. Preferential use of herbs and spices over salts and salt-based seasonings is also emphasized. Wine, particularly red wine, is another main staple of the Mediterranean diet, as it’s a potent source of antioxidant compounds that promote good health.
In addition, regular intake of protein-rich foods is highly encouraged when eating the Mediterranean way.
For maximum benefits you would include sizeable amounts of lean poultry and oily fish (salmon, trout and tuna), as both house very large quantities of niacin, selenium and other valuable nutrients. Moderation is key when it comes to eating dairy foods and substitutes, eggs and red meat. For example, you might consume a few servings of yogurt or cheese daily and even take in up to four whole eggs a week. When it comes to red meat, erring on the side of no more than 12-14 ounces per week would be ideal.
Since the Mediterranean diet is essentially devoid of artificial sugars and trans fats, low in saturated fat, and exceptionally rich in dietary fiber, monounsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids (due to inclusion of nuts and fish), it’s considered to be one of the most beneficial eating plans for overall good health.
When coupled with regular physical activity and abstinence from smoking, a Mediterranean style of diet is known to provide protection against numerous chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease and related complications like heart attack and stroke. Eating this way has also been shown to play a substantial role in the prevention and management of diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
At the end of the day, most people can benefit from eating the Mediterranean way, as it’s very easy to follow, nutritiously sound, and packed full of incredibly delicious foods. In addition, adopting this eating style is excellent for long-term weight management since it doesn’t severely restrict calorie consumption and allows you to enjoy many of your favorite foods.
So as not to overly complicate things, here are some simple tips:
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to your vegetables or use it during cooking.
- Shoot for about 4-8 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruits each day.
- Aim for 1-2 servings of different varieties of beans, peas or lentils each day.
- Take in a 1/4 to 1/2 cup serving of nuts as a healthy snack or add them to your cereals or entrees for unique flavor and texture.
- Opt for about 3-5 servings of whole grain foods each day.
- Include up to four whole eggs a week into your eating plan. You can also incorporate 1-2 daily servings of yogurt or cheese.
- Make an effort to eat lean poultry and oily fish at least twice a week in 4-to-6-ounce serving sizes.
Sounds pretty easy right? It’s just that simple!
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Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a physician for advice.