A Mediterranean diet is one that consists of eating foods rich in vegetables, olive oil and a moderate amount of protein. This diet involves the combination of foods from Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Italy. It highly reduces the intake of meat and butter, swapping them for fish and unsaturated oils respectively. The Mediterranean diet is commonly known as a lifestyle rather than a diet as it involves food, activities and meals with friends and family. Below are some of the health benefits of switching to a Mediterranean diet.
Type 2 diabetes: Mediterranean diets are rich in fiber and whole grains. One advantages of this type of foods is that they help slow down digestion in humans. This helps in preventing huge fluctuations in our blood sugar, hence protecting us against type 2 diabetes.
Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention: Processed foods and red meat have been linked to heart disease and stroke especially in the aging population. A typical Mediterranean diet prevents the consumption of such foods as it replaces it with fruits and fish.
Aids Agility: The nutrients from Mediterranean diets are such that help nourish the muscles in the body. This reduces the rate of fragility in adult bones and muscles. Eating fruits and vegetables regularly also aids proper digestion.
Reduces Risk of Alzheimer: Studies have shown that eating a Mediterranean diet helps maintains the cholesterol and blood level sugar in the body to the required level. This reduces the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Reduces Risk of Parkinson’s Disease: A Mediterranean diet contains high levels of antioxidants that prevent oxidative stress. This prevents cells from undergoing a damaging process that leads to Parkinson’s disease.
Increased Longevity: Research has shown that there is a 20 percent reduced risk of death at any age for people who are on a Mediterranean diet. This is because there is a reduction in the development of cancer and heart disease from consumption of the food consisting in a Mediterranean diet as compared to a normal diet.
What to Eat in a Mediterranean Diet
A daily variety of fruits and vegetables such as grapes, tomatoes, figs, lentils, chickpeas etc. is ideal in a Mediterranean menu. In addition, whole grain foods also make a great recipe in a Mediterranean diet. This can consist of wheat bread, brown rice, pasta and couscous.
Furthermore, you should go for unsaturated fats. About 35 to 40 percent of daily calories come from fats. Healthy unsaturated fats are gotten from olive oil, nuts, and seed oils like canola, soybean and flaxseed. In maintaining this type of diet, try as much as possible to avoid animal fats such as milk and dairy products made with whole milk. Fish meals are a healthy source of diet too. They can be made from tuna, salmon, herring, lake trout and sardines. Fish should be eating at least twice a week in a Mediterranean diet.
In addition, low fat dairy food products such as cheese and yoghurt should be eaten in moderate amounts. Poultry foods such as eggs should only be eaten twice a week. Finally, sugar sweetened food, drinks and desserts go against the Mediterranean diet. If possible, limit consumption to a few times monthly.
Mediterranean diet is known as a lifestyle and not specifically for people who want to lose weight. Majority of people who start a Mediterranean diet do not feel as if they are losing out on food. The energy used to undergo their daily activities is either maintained or improved as the diet contains all the necessary nutrients to fuel the body. Finally, a healthy diet helps prevents us from life threatening illnesses, thus making us look young and feel young in our later years.