The Mediterranean diet is based on the food that Italians and Greeks used to consume back in 1960. Researches concluded that these people were exceptionally healthy and are not prone to lifestyle diseases.
Recent studies also show that this particular diet plan helps with weight loss and prevents heart attacks, type 2 diabetes, and premature death.
However, there is no fixed meal that the Mediterranean diet follows. Since there are many countries around the Mediterranean sea, food and meals vary. Though they have common ingredients, the diet plan can be adjusted according to your preferences.
What to eat
Since a lot of countries surround the Mediterranean sea, food and meals vary. In most studies, these meals are predominantly healthy plant food and low in animal food. However, it is recommended to eat fish and seafood at least twice a week.
Aside from food, adopting the Mediterranean lifestyle is also good, not only for the health but also for a healthy mindset, such as regular physical activity, sharing meals with others, and enjoy what life offers.
According to Healthline, you can plan a whole diet meal with these unprocessed Mediterranean ingredients:
- Vegetables: Tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, etc.
- Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches, etc.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
- Legumes: Beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas, etc.
- Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, yams, etc.
- Whole grains: Whole oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat, whole-grain bread, and pasta.
- Fish and seafood: Salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels, etc.
- Poultry: Chicken, duck, turkey, etc.
- Eggs: Chicken, quail, and duck eggs.
- Dairy: Cheese, yogurt, Greek yogurt, etc.
- Herbs and spices: Garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, etc.
- Healthy Fats: Extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, and avocado oil.
How to eat
Though the Mediterranean diet has no rules set in stone, there are still a few guidelines to follow to assure you are consuming the right way.
The food that you should mainly eat are vegetables, fruits, seeds, legumes, whole grains, bread, fish, and seafood. While poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt are to be eaten moderately. Red meat, on the other hand, should only be eaten rarely.
What to avoid?
The Mediterranean diet is also about consuming unprocessed food. Here are the food that you should avoid.
- Added sugar: Soda, candies, ice cream, table sugar, and many others.
- Refined grains: White bread, pasta made with refined wheat, etc.
- Trans fats: Found in margarine and various processed foods.
- Refined oils: Soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, and others.
- Processed meat: Processed sausages, hot dogs, etc.
- Highly processed foods
What to drink
The best beverage for your Mediterranean diet is water.
In moderation, you can also have a glass of red wine a day. Coffee and teas are also acceptable. However, this is completely optional. As much as possible, avoid drinks that contain alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages.
Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet consistently ranks as the healthiest and the best diet you can do. A Mediterranean meal plan typically consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, and olive oil. And with the right amount of physical activity, it can give loads of health benefits.
Low-risk of heart disease and strokes. When you follow a Mediterranean diet, you limit your intake of refined bread and processed food. You are also encouraged to drink a healthy dose of red wine instead of hard alcohol. All these can help prevent heart disease and strokes.
Strong bones. An older adult that follows a Mediterranean diet has gained nutrients that reduce muscle weakness and frailty by 70%.
Reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s. Researches note that the Mediterranean diet might improve cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and overall blood vessel health. When all of these factors are healthy, you are reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Reduces the risk of Parkinson’s Disease by half. This diet has high levels of antioxidants that prevent cells from undergoing a damaging process. This cuts the risk of having Parkinson’s disease in half.
Protects you against type 2 diabetes. A Mediterranean diet meal is rich in fiber. These digests slowly, prevent unhealthy jumps in blood sugar, and helps you in maintaining a healthy weight.