The Mediterranean Diet Basics: Discover Eating for Good Health

The Mediterranean Diet Basics: Discover Eating for Good Health (2022)

The Mediterranean Diet Basics: Discover Eating for Good Health (2022)

The word “diet” might seem like a limit that one has to achieve, but it can be a source of inspiration to choose healthier foods and make small changes in your lifestyle.

The Mediterranean diet doesn’t fall far from this fact, and it is a healthy-eating plan practiced in the Mediterranean region that involves preparing traditional Mediterranean food.

During the 1950s, numerous studies confirmed that heart disease was common in the U.S. compared to the Mediterranean countries. 

People in the Mediterranean countries loved the diet since it was not restrictive. 

In this article, we will introduce you to The Mediterranean Diet and cover the following topics:

  • What is the Mediterranean Diet?
  • Why is it good for you?
  • What to eat on the Mediterranean Diet?
  • What are the risks of the Mediterranean Diet?
  • Tips on getting started on the Mediterranean Diet

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet has been part of human culture since ancient times. The word “Mediterranean” comes from the Greek word “mediterraneos,” which means “inland sea.” The diet was first documented in writings by Hippocrates, who lived between 460-370 B.C., and later by Pliny the Elder, who wrote about the diet in his Naturalis Historia in 77 A.D.

The Mediterranean diet, also known as Greek food, is an eating pattern practiced by people who live in countries surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, such as France, Spain, Italy, and Greece.  

The Mediterranean diet has been around for centuries, but it’s only recently that we have started to learn more about its benefits and how to implement it into our lives. 

It’s a way of eating that focuses on whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, olive oil, fish, chicken, eggs, and dairy products. 

It also emphasizes healthy fats from plants (like olives) rather than animal sources. This food intake helps promote heart health, brain function, weight loss, and overall wellness.

Why is the Mediterranean diet so popular?

There are several reasons why people choose to follow the Mediterranean diet; some of these include:

  • Eating local, seasonal, and organic produce
  • Eating less meat
  • Eating more seafood
  • Drinking wine
  • Having regular meals
  • Being active 

Why is it good for you?

The Mediterranean diet is one of the most popular diets out there today. 

But what exactly does this diet consist of, and why should you consider incorporating it into your lifestyle?

The Mediterranean diet is high in fiber, low in saturated fat, and rich in antioxidants. It includes lots of fresh produce, legumes, whole grains, seafood, poultry, and lean red meat.

It’s not just what you put on your plate; it’s also what you don’t eat. People following the Mediterranean diet avoid processed foods, refined sugars, and salt and limit their consumption of alcohol and red meat.

It is due to its promotion of whole foods and healthier choices that it has seen evidence of its various health benefits, which include:

  • Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease
  • Weight Management
  • Reduces the Risk of Cancers
  • Reduces the Risk of Neurodegenerative Diseases
  • Reduces the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Better Diabetes Management
  • Helps Improve Mental Health 

Reduces your risk of Heart Disease

The Mediterranean diet has long been touted as one of the best ways to prevent cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. 

A recent review of studies published in the Journal of Internal Medicine found that people following the Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of developing coronary artery disease and dying from it.

Researchers analyzed data from 17 separate studies involving over 60,000 participants. They looked specifically at how dietary patterns affected the development of atherosclerosis, which occurs when fatty deposits build up inside the walls of the arteries. Atherosclerosis leads to heart attack and stroke.

Other studies show that the Mediterranean diet may help lower blood pressure. Researchers in Spain examined the diets of 4,500 men and women aged 45 to 75, and participants were followed for about ten years. Those who ate the most seafood, fruit, vegetables, legumes, bread, and pasta had lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure.

Weight Management

Many people worldwide eat the Mediterranean diet, which has proven to be one of the best for overall health and wellness. However, it was not designed specifically for weight loss purposes.

Several studies found that participants following a Mediterranean diet for at least one month lost up to 11 lbs. compared to low-fat dieters.

However, these studies showed similar results for both low-carb and high-fat diets.

The Mediterranean diet is low in calories and rich in micronutrients (like vitamins and minerals), making it a good choice for shedding pounds. It also emphasizes healthy fats, which makes it both satisfying and effective!

Reduces your risk of Cancers

The Mediterranean diet has been shown to lower the risk of certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer.

Other studies suggest that the Mediterranean diet could help prevent different types of cancer, including lung, stomach, liver, and pancreatic cancer.

The exact mechanisms by which the Mediterranean diet protects against cancer are not fully understood, but it is thought to be due to the combination of nutrients in the diet. 

These include antioxidants, which protect cells from damage; anti-inflammatory compounds; and phytochemicals, which have various health-promoting effects. 

Reduces your risk of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Neurodegenerative diseases are a group of disorders that affect the nervous system and can lead to problems with movement, memory, and thinking.

The Mediterranean Diet can help reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases because it contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. These nutrients protect the brain from damage and help to keep it healthy. The diet is also low in saturated fats and sugar, damaging the brain.

Studies have shown that people who follow the Mediterranean Diet have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The diet may also help improve cognitive function in people with these conditions.

The Mediterranean Diet is an excellent option to protect your brain health!

Reduces Diabetes risk and improves the management

There is growing evidence that the Mediterranean diet can help improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes and also protect against developing type 2 diabetes in the first place.

A large study called the PREDIMED trial found that people at high risk for heart disease who followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts significantly reduced their risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes compared to those who followed a low-fat diet.

Another study found that people with type 2 diabetes who followed a Mediterranean diet had better blood sugar control and were more likely to lose weight than those who followed a low-fat diet.

Furthermore, research shows that people with type 2 diabetes improve their heart health once they adopt the Mediterranean diet.

Helps Improve Mental Health 

In the Mediterranean meal plan, when one consumes more fruits and vegetables, they will not only feel better physically but also have their mental health lifted.

Studies show that people who consume more vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as cucumber, spinach, and raw fruits, have better life satisfaction, a great mood, and fewer symptoms of depression. 

What to eat on the Mediterranean Diet? 

Now that you know a little bit more about the Mediterranean diet and its various health benefits, you might wonder what kind of foods you can and cannot eat.

As you already know, the Mediterranean diet is based on eating the traditional foods of the Mediterranean region. Here are simple tips on what you should aim to eat.

Eat PLENTY of:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Lean proteins 
  • Seafood
  • Olive oil
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grain bread, rice, and pasta

Eat MODERATE amounts of:

  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Red meat

Drink MODERATE amounts of:

  • Wine
  • Beer

Eat VERY SMALL amounts of:

  • Sweets
  • Processed foods
  • Refined carbohydrates

Drink VERY SMALL amounts of:

  • Sugary beverages, such as soda, juice, and sports drinks

A typical meal plan might look something like this:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with berries, almonds, and honey

Lunch: Grilled salmon with steamed broccoli and brown rice

Dinner: Roasted chicken breast with roasted sweet potato fries and kale salad

Snacks: Fresh fruit and nuts

What are the risks of the Mediterranean Diet?

While the Mediterranean diet has proven to help reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and type 2 diabetes, it does come with limitations.

The good news is that most of these limitations are manageable. Below are some of the limitations of the Mediterranean diet:

Falling short of some nutrients

People who follow the Mediterranean diet often consume fewer dairy products, making it challenging to get enough calcium and vitamin D nutrients.

Luckily, dairy products and other sources, such as fortified milk alternatives, including seafood, spinach, soy products, and sesame seeds, have calcium and vitamin D.

No specific guidelines 

Unlike other diets, the Mediterranean diet doesn’t give specific food portion sizes, calorie counts, foods to avoid, or a strict list of foods to have. 

You may find that this can be a challenge if you’re somebody who is after a more structured diet.

Can be costly

With the Mediterranean diet, you don’t have to spend a fortune on supplements or branded foods; however, some consumers may be wary of the cost of some foods, such as seed, olive oil, nuts, and seafood.

Seafood can be more costly compared to other protein sources. 

Tips on getting started on the Mediterranean Diet

If you’re ready to start living a healthier life, one of the first things you need to do is make changes to your lifestyle, including switching to a healthy diet.

There are many different diets, but the Mediterranean diet is proven to help improve overall health. 

Here are 3 simple steps to get started with the Mediterranean diet:

#1. Choose your key foods

The first step towards starting the Mediterranean diet is choosing a few key foods to include in your daily menu. 

These foods include:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Lean proteins

Once you have chosen these foods, you can plan your meals around them. To ensure you are getting enough fiber, try incorporating at least five servings of fruits and veggies into every meal.

#2. Limit processed foods

Next, focus on limiting processed foods. Many people think avoiding processed foods is giving up convenience; however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Instead, you are simply cutting back on the number of refined carbohydrates you consume. By doing so, you will feel fuller faster, which helps you lose weight.

To limit the amount of saturated fat you consume, opt for lean meats instead of fatty cuts. Also, try to restrict overconsuming red meat.

#3. Get your Omega-3s!

Finally, make sure you are getting adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. 

Omega-3s are essential fats in fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and herring. They also come from plant sources such as flaxseed and walnuts.

The Bottom Line 

In conclusion, the Mediterranean diet is a great way to eat if you want to improve your health or make healthier choices. 

It is simple, delicious, and good for your health. The best part about the Mediterranean diet is that it is flexible and easy to stick to follow. 

There are no hard and fast rules, so you can make the diet work for you. Go ahead and give it a try!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top