There is something almost luxurious about the way people form the Mediterranean cook and eat their foods. With an abundance of fresh fish, vegetables, fruits and oils, it’s easy to fall in love with the delicious, simple flavours. Not only is their diet super tasty, but did you know that people who live in the Mediterranean suffer from lower levels of chronic disease and enjoy a longer life expectancy? They seem to have struck the perfect work, family, food and exercise balance, to live long happy lives. So let’s look at the Mediterranean diet in a bit more detail…
The diet consists of simple, whole foods, that are enjoyed fresh. It is based around the foods people in Greece, Spain and Southern Italy would eat in the 1960’s. This diet includes:
Olive oil – The Mediterranean diet doesn’t eliminate fats, instead it utilises healthy fats, such as olive oil. It does not include butter, trans or saturated fats. Olive oil is the least processed form of oil and can help reduce cholesterol when used instead of saturated and trans-fats.
Seafood – Fish and seafood are consumed at least twice a week on the Mediterranean diet, as one of the main protein sources. Fish such as mackerel, salmon and sardines are another form of healthy fat the diet utilises.
Legumes – Legumes are an excellent source of protein and fibre and a good source of starch, opposed to the simple spud. Varieties of legumes include, beans, peas, lentils, pulses, chickpeas and peanuts. They are consumed daily on the Mediterranean diet.
Fruits and Vegetables – Fruits and vegetables should be consumed with gusto on this diet, making up the majority of your meals. You should aim for 7-10 servings a day of a variety of plant based foods.
Nuts – Almond, walnuts, macadamia’s, cashews, pistachios’ and hazelnuts are all great snacks. Try a natural peanut butter, without the added salt.
Whole Grains – Whole grains can reduce your risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes and weight gain. Some options are, Bulgar, farro, whole-wheat bread and pasta and brown rice.
Red Meat – Red meat is kept to a minimum on this diet.
The reason this diet is effective, is because it focuses on fresh food, minimal preservatives and healthy fats. It minimises processed and sugary foods, as well as lowering your risk of chronic diseases.
As far as ‘diets’ go, this is more of a lifestyle choice, as it is a sustainable way of eating. It seems to be viewed as a healthy diet and a good option for those looking to start a healthy eating plan.