Why it would be a good idea to start a Mediterranean diet in your life.
Younger looking and stronger skin, healthy weight loss and improved mental functioning have also been linked to a diet rich in plant foods, vegetables and fruits, the right kinds of fish, good fats and whole grains. These are the basic ingredients the Mediterranean Diet revolves around. So, how do you start the Mediterranean Diet In your life? Put the following 5 simple steps in practice, and your brain, heart and entire body will begin feeling and looking healthy and fit.
A huge nutrition study out of Spain was published in 2013, delivering some wonderful health news. The New England Journal of Medicine offered compelling evidence to prove that the Mediterranean Diet delivered an approximately 30% lower chance of cardiovascular diseases, including stroke. Researchers for the Harvard School of Public Health, the Cambridge Health Alliance, the British Medical Journal and others have reported similar findings.
Don’t be afraid of fat.
The key here is in knowing what fats are good for you, and which are bad. Saturated and trans fats? Very bad, and found in way too many processed foods. They are unhealthy for your heart, and lead to obesity and other health problems. Nuts, extra virgin olive oil, sunflower seeds and avocados are “good fats”. Start swapping these out immediately.
Your mother was right. Eat your veggies!
The heart-healthy and brain-strengthening Mediterranean Diet includes whole grains, whole foods, good fats, fish, fruits, lean healthy meat on a limited basis and natural, high-fiber foods. And all of these are needed for your body to function properly, and at a high level. But vegetables are the food All-Stars which deserve your biggest focus. Make fresh vegetables the biggest part of every meal.
Eat Mediterranean Diet foods first.
Vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains make you feel full faster and longer than processed foods. So during any meal, eat these food items first. You will find yourself feeling sated quickly, eating less “bad foods” and enjoying the health benefits that come with a Mediterranean-style diet.
Eat fish 2 to 3 times a week.
Halibut, salmon, tuna and sardines are exceptionally high in omega-3 fatty acids. They are also low in calories and carbs, high in protein, and the preferred meat of the Mediterranean Diet. They are versatile, can be eaten hot or cold after cooking, and should replace red meat and processed meat in your diet wherever possible.
Go big on beans.
Legumes are definitely an important part of the Mediterranean Diet. They are heart healthy, fill you up quickly and keep you feeling full longer, and there are literally dozens of varieties available. You can use beans to make dips, hummus and other pastes, or eat them on their own. Use them to complement vegetables, fruits and whole grain products as an essential part of your healthy Mediterranean Diet plan.
What Are the Food Choices Which Make up a Mediterranean Diet?
Do you envision gyros, lasagna, plenty of white bread, lamb and pizza when you think about Mediterranean food? If so, you are missing the mark. The Mediterranean Diet which has been proved time and again to lead to less disease, a healthier heart, better brain functioning and a multitude of other health benefits has been distorted in recent years. A healthy Mediterranean Diet is based on the eating habits of Greece, Crete and Southern Italy around 1960, not some altered modern day version.
That diet focuses on whole foods, plants and vegetables as its base. Smaller portions of lean, healthy meat are also present, as well as eating seafood 2 or 3 times a week. Good fats replace bad ones, dairy products are limited, and you always eat a breakfast rich in high-fiber foods, fruits and whole grains. Listed below are a few popular food choices which make up a healthy Mediterranean-style diet.
- Fish like salmon and sardines, tuna and herring
- Shellfish, such as clams, oysters and mussels
- Herbs and natural spices
- Fruits and vegetables of all kinds
- Whole wheat, whole grains and oats
- Good fats like extra-virgin olive oil, sunflower seeds, nuts and avocados
- Whole foods (foods that are as close to their natural state as possible)
Understanding your options for eating a healthy Mediterranean Diet also means what foods you should avoid, or simply cut back on. Limit your intake of the following food items and components, and you will be making smart Mediterranean food choices.
- Processed and red meat
- Products made with white flour
- Refined sugar
- Bad fats like hydrogenated oils, saturated fats and trans fats
- Butter, margarine and lard
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG is found in up to 80% of all processed food)
- Fast food and fried food
These Mediterranean Diet no-nos are not all strictly forbidden. For example, eating red meat a few times a month is fine. And sea salt has its place, since it does not undergo an unnatural process to arrive on your grocer’s shelves, like table salt does. Just remember to focus on choosing more fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains, and less processed and refined food, salt, sugar and unhealthy fats.
Making smart food choices is the basis of the Mediterranean Diet. Before you prepare your next meal, be honest with yourself. Is your diet primarily whole food, plant and vegetable-based? Does it substitute healthy fats for bad fats? Will it ensure that you eat fish 2 or 3 times each week, and red meat no more than 2 or 3 times a month? If so, you are well on your way to choosing the foods found in a Mediterranean-style diet that lead to fewer diseases and better overall health.
What is your experience with Mediterranean Diet ?
In which way was it beneficial for you?