The Mediterranean diet has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, prevent dementia and depression, and even help with weight loss.
If you’re thinking about following this diet, you might be curious about what it entails and whether it’s the right choice for you.
Here are some basic things to know about the Mediterranean diet and how it can benefit your health.
What is Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that is inspired by the traditional foods consumed in the countries like Spain, Greece, and Italy.
The diet emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and olive oil.
Fish and poultry are eaten in moderate amounts, red meat is consumed only occasionally, and wine is drunk in moderation.
Meals typically consist of an appetizer, salad or soup, fish or poultry, a vegetable dish, rice or other grain, and fruit for dessert. Olive oil is used to cook and dress salads, pasta dishes, and soups.
For example: A traditional Mediterranean dinner might include lamb chops served with roasted vegetables, followed by an assortment of cheeses and fruit for dessert.
How does it compare to other diets?
The Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy eating pattern that includes mostly plant-based foods. Some versions of the diet also include fish, poultry, and dairy in moderation.
The diet has been shown to improve heart health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
But it’s not for everyone!
If you’re considering the Mediterranean diet, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to see if it’s right for you.
They can assess your current habits and give advice on how to implement a Mediterranean diet without putting your health at risk.
A lot of people find the Mediterranean diet difficult because they don’t enjoy all the fruits and vegetables involved with it.
Plus, this diet does require more work than other diets since you need to prepare fresh meals from scratch every day.
However, this extra work can be rewarding since preparing food yourself will be healthier than relying on processed convenience items found in stores.
And keep in mind that every body is different — what works for someone else might not work for you!
What you can eat on Mediterranean diet?
When following a Mediterranean diet, you can fill your plate with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts.
You can also enjoy moderate amounts of dairy, poultry and fish, as well as red wine in moderation. This way of eating is not only delicious, but also heart-healthy.
Studies have shown that people who closely follow this type of diet are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
That’s because they’re consuming healthy fats, like olive oil and nuts, which reduce inflammation. They’re also filling up on antioxidant-rich produce like leafy greens and dark berries.
The Mediterranean diet has been linked to longevity, too — people living in countries near the Mediterranean sea tend to live longer than those elsewhere.
Benefits of eating Mediterranean style:
The Mediterranean diet has been linked with lower rates of heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and some forms of cancer.
In addition, people who follow a Mediterranean diet tend to live longer and have a lower risk of obesity than those who don’t.
If you’re looking to improve your overall health, the Mediterranean diet may be a good choice for you.
Like other healthy diets, this one includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts as well as limited red meat.
However, it also includes olive oil as the main source of fat instead of butter or lard. Olive oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids which are known to promote cardiovascular health.
Another major component of the Mediterranean diet is moderate consumption of wine. It’s important to note that not all wines are created equal!
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center points out that heavy drinkers can get 10 times more toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from wine than from beer and two times more than from hard liquor.
How much will I lose on this plan?
The amount of weight you lose on the Mediterranean diet depends on a number of factors, including how closely you stick to the plan and how many calories you consume each day.
However, one study found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet lost an average of 5% of their body weight after eight weeks.
Another trial reported that people who adhered to a Mediterranean-style diet for 12 months had significantly greater reductions in risk factors for heart disease (e.g., cholesterol levels) than those assigned to follow a lower-fat diet.
It is important to note, however, that these studies are short term and have not evaluated long-term effects or safety.
Mediterranean diet food list:
Mediterranean foods may include:
- Greek Salad
- Fattoush Salad
- Ful Medames
- Moroccan Tagine
- Salade niçoise
- Pizza Margherita
Disadvantages of following this type of diet:
The main disadvantage of following a Mediterranean diet is that it can be expensive. This is because you need to buy fresh, healthy ingredients and cook most of your meals from scratch.
It can also be time-consuming to prepare meals from scratch, and some people may not have the patience or cooking skills to do this.
Additionally, the diet may not be sustainable in the long-term if you don’t live in a Mediterranean country and don’t have access to fresh, healthy ingredients all year round.
There are many different versions of the Mediterranean diet so make sure you research what type suits your needs best before embarking on this type of lifestyle change.
Another important factor to consider is your food preferences; there are several countries which have their own take on the traditional Mediterranean diet.
For example, Spain and Italy will typically incorporate more meat into their dishes while Greece relies heavily on legumes.
Another consideration is how much time you want to spend cooking since preparing food at home will generally involve more preparation than eating out at restaurants.
If you’re looking for an easier way to get started with healthier eating habits, here are a few things you can do:
- Once or twice per week, plan ahead by doing your grocery shopping and meal prepping over the weekend so that healthy foods are already prepared and ready to eat when weekday hunger hits.
- Try to incorporate as many vegetables as possible in your diet throughout the day.
- Cook up big batches of quinoa, beans, or pasta and add them to salads, soups, and stir fries.
- Stick to whole grains like oats, brown rice, barley, farro, and bulgur wheat instead of processed carbs like white breads and pastas.
- Limit fruit intake to three servings per day (one of these should be eaten first thing in the morning).
- Increase your intake of healthy fats like olive oil, avocado oil, butter, nuts/seeds/butters & seeds oils (i.e., flaxseed oil), and avocados.
Mediterranean diet vs Nordic diet:
The two diets are similar in that they both emphasize plant-based foods, but the Mediterranean diet also includes moderate amounts of dairy, fish, and poultry.
The Nordic diet is slightly higher in protein and fat, and lower in carbs than the Mediterranean diet.
So, which one is right for you? If you’re looking to lose weight, the answer may be the Mediterranean diet.
Studies have shown that this way of eating can help you drop pounds and improve your health.
One study found that those who followed a Mediterranean diet for three years lost about 10% more weight and experienced a greater reduction in waist circumference than those on a low-fat diet.
A major reason for these results may be due to the fact that it’s easier to cut back on calories when following a Mediterranean style of eating rather than reducing food intake as seen with low-fat diets.
Another potential benefit of the Mediterranean diet is its potential effect on cognitive function.
In another study, those who ate a traditional Greek diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil showed significant improvement in memory and cognitive function over an 18-month period when compared to a control group who did not receive any dietary intervention.
The Mediterranean diet is a great way to eat healthy and enjoy delicious food. However, it’s not right for everyone. If you’re thinking about changing your diet, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to see if the Mediterranean diet is right for you!