The Mediterranean Diet is tasty, nutritious and healthy. While referred to as a diet, it’s actually an excellent lifestyle choice that can easily be sustained long-term.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean Diet is a regional diet based on the eating patterns of a few countries on the Mediterranean coast. It’s mostly focused on traditional foods (mid 1900s) of Greece and Italy.
Rules of the Mediterranean Diet
There aren’t any firm rules, more like guidelines. The Mediterranean Diet should be high in plants and low-moderate in meats and seafood.
Food on the Mediterranean diet is typically low in saturated fats.
What to Eat on the Mediterranean Diet
- Fish & Seafood: They’re high in good fats and should be enjoyed one to three times a week.
- Poultry & Eggs: Poultry and eggs are low in saturated fats. They’re a good protein choice – try to incorporate more than just chicken (duck, quail, turkey, etc).
- Meat: Eat in moderation. Red meat is usually very limited – at most, once per week. Lamb is the most common red meat eaten in the Mediterranean.
- Fruits & Vegetables: Enjoy! You probably shouldn’t eat a diet entirely of sugary fruits. Bonus for fruits and veggies native to the Mediterranean (like figs, artichokes, and pomegranates).
- Legumes, Nuts & Seeds: Enjoy these healthy additions. Don’t forget to try some hummus, which is native to the Mediterranean!
- Whole Grains: They’re a healthy part of the Mediterranean Diet. HOWEVER, make sure they’re WHOLE grains. Also, watch your portion sizes. The Mediterranean isn’t consuming North American sized portions of pasta and bread.
- Dairy: skip the ice cream, but enjoy cheese, yogurt (especially Greek style) and milk. Also, try goat dairy products – it’s common in the region.
- Olive Oil: you can use other unrefined oils, but olive oil is the traditional oil of the region.
- Wine: in moderation, and stick with red. By the way, moderation means a few glasses a week, not a night.
Don’t Eat This on the Mediterranean Diet
- Refined Oil: say goodbye to rapeseed, canola and soybean oils.
- Refined Grains: you’re also going to say goodbye to white breads and other refined and processed grains.
- Processed Meats: You should be limiting your meat consumption anyways, but processed meats are a no-no. Goodbye deli meats and hotdogs. You should probably cut bacon, too.
- Sugar: I feel like this is so obvious I didn’t even want to put it on the list. Don’t eat candy or chocolate bars. No more drinking soda.
Mediterranean Diet Benefits
Check out these amazing 7 benefits of being on the Mediterranean diet!
Mediterranean Diet Benefit #1: Low in Sugar
On the Mediterranean diet, you’ll eat few artificial or heavily processed foods. These foods are generally high in added sweeteners, like high fructose corn syrup.
Research has shown a ton of negative effects of consuming too much sugar including weight gain, increased risk of heart disease, accelerated aging, and more.
Mediterranean Diet Benefit #2: Weight Loss
What’s the number one reason that people look into changing what they’re eating? They want to lose weight. If that’s you, the Mediterranean diet could be the answer.
The major benefit of weight loss on the Mediterranean diet is that you’re unlikely to feel hungry. The Mediterranean diet is high in healthy fats, and the consumption of those fats helps keep you feeling full.
Further, the Mediterranean diet isn’t really strict and has no crazy-difficult requirements. You can focus your diet on the things that work for you. Want lower carbs? That’s fine! What vegetarian? Go for it. As you should know, the best diet is the one you stick with.
Mediterranean Diet Benefit #3: Heart Healthy
A traditional Mediterranean diet is high in omega-3s, which are thought to decrease your risk of heart disease, stroke and other heart problems.
Seafood, nuts, and olive oil are high in omega-3s. So, if you incorporate them into the diet like the guidelines, you’ll get a lot of benefits to your heart.
Mediterranean Diet Benefit #4: Prevent Disease
The Mediterranean diet can help fight cancer. Plants should make up the majority of your diet, and plant-based diets are known to provide antioxidants that can prevent, stop or delay certain cancers and tutors.
The Mediterranean diet can also help prevent or treat Type 2 Diabetes. This is linked back to Benefit #1: Low Sugar. Since you won’t be consuming excess sweeteners, you’ll likely experience more stable blood sugar.
Mediterranean Diet Benefit #5: Mental Health
The Mediterranean diet might help stave off Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other types of cognitive decline. This is related to the consumption of healthy fats, which are good for brain health.
Mediterranean Diet Benefit #6: Social Eating
Part of the Mediterranean culture is to enjoy leisurely social meals. A glass of red wine and slow, lengthy meals are an accepted (expected!) part of being on the Mediterranean diet. Don’t wolf your food down in front of the TV or microwave. Savour your meals, even if you’re alone.
Mediterranean Diet Benefit #7: Skin Improvements
Olive oil and tomatoes are generally eaten in abundance on the Mediterranean diet. Both are good for your skin, enriching it with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to approve its health (and appearance).
Try the Mediterranean Diet and See!
The Mediterranean Diet is a great choice. It emphasizes eating foods that are less (or un) processed.
It’s also a choice you can stick with long-term. Consider giving the Mediterranean diet a chance! Let me know how it works out for you.
Ready for more? Why not check out How to Do the Mediterranean + Keto Diet next!
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