According to the Mayo Clinic, adopting the Mediterranean diet is an excellent decision for the health of your heart. This particular diet follows the dietary patterns of the inhabitants of Greece, Southern Italy and Spain. Of course, it’s a way of life in those particular regions, but elsewhere, it didn’t gain much recognition until the 1990s. The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet were put into a publication in 1970 and a book-length report was put out in 1980. However, if you don’t like fish, then you won’t be able to completely follow this diet.
Types of Foods
The Mediterranean diet includes similar foods to those found in other healthy diets; fish, veggies, whole grains, fruits, and a limited amount of unhealthy fats. Besides eating healthy meals, this particular diet tends to incorporate olive oil and even a glass of red wine with some meals. Each meal revolves round fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices and olive oil. At least twice a week, if not more often, fish and seafood should be eaten during mealtime as well. As for yogurt, eggs, cheese and poultry, these should be consumed in moderate portions, daily to weekly. Sweets and meats should be eaten the least amount of all.
Benefits of this Diet
Research shows the Mediterranean diet greatly reduces the risks associated with heart disease and even some forms of cancer. The Mayo Clinic website also states that there are reduced incidences of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases noted in individuals who follow this type of diet.
How to Switch to the Mediterranean Diet
Some people might find it easy to simply quit their current eating habits and dive right into the Mediterranean diet. If this isn’t the case for you, then you might want to make changes slowly. Start by replacing butter with olive oil or other healthy fats. Extra virgin and virgin olive oils have been processed the least, so they contain the highest levels of antioxidants. Use some herbs and spices to season foods, instead of reaching for the salt shaker. Try cooking red meat only a few times each month and make sure the piece you are eating is no bigger than the palm of your hand. That little tidbit comes directly from my husband’s heart doctor. Have a piece of fish for lunch or dinner at least twice a week. If you aren’t a huge fan of fish, then replace it with a lean piece of poultry, but still eat it only twice a week. Switch to low-fat dairy and don’t forget to add in at least a small portion of fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and legumes. Once it becomes more of a routine, you’ll be able to come up with creative combinations of plant-based foods for each mealtime. Oh, and if you opt to add a glass of red wine with dinner, make sure it’s no more than 5 ounces.
The Key Components
Any vegetarian or vegan can tell you how delicious a plant-based diet can be. The combinations of vegetables and whole-grains out there are too many to count. Once you toss in the appropriate amount and types of herbs and spices, you’ve got one tasty meal. The Mediterranean diet basically revolves around eating plant-based foods, so this part needs to be focused on a lot. If you can’t come up with great tasting ways to fix fruits, veggies, whole-grains, nuts and legumes, then you might have trouble sticking with this diet. Residents of Greece eat around six or more servings of vegetables and fruits each day. Whether you try the Mediterranean diet for a week or if you’re able to incorporate it into your daily living, I hope this information gives you a glimpse into something new and healthy.
What has been your experience with the Mediterranean diet?
Mediterranean Diet Recipes from Mayo Clinic
Meal Plan from Diabetes.org
Have a food article to share? Link up for Tasty Tuesday!
MomPrepares loves to join link-ups and meet other bloggers. Here is the list of our favorite link-ups so you can participate too!