What is Mediterranean Diet?

Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional dietary patterns of people in southern Italy, Greece, and Spain. The diet emphasizes whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables, and fish. Olive oil and red wine are well-known components of the Mediterranean diet, and are widely believed to be responsible for at least some of its health benefits. The diet includes a moderate amount of dairy products. On the other hand, red meat, refined grains, and sugar are largely avoided.

What Are the Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet?

People who follow a Mediterranean diet have been found to have a lower risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's disease. The Mediterranean diet has also been found to be effective for weight loss. According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2008, people who followed a Mediterranean diet for two years lost an average of 10 pounds, compared with only 7 pounds for those on a low-fat diet.

What Can You Eat on the Mediterranean Diet?

According to a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2009, two keys to the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are to eat more vegetables and less meat. Whole grains are an important part of the diet, as are beans and other legumes. Other foods included on the Mediterranean diet are fish and seafood, nuts and seeds, fruit, and dairy products (especially in the form of cheese and yogurt).

In contrast to the low-fat diet that authorities have encouraged Americans to adopt, the Mediterranean diet is a moderate-fat diet. However, experts increasingly believe that dietary fat does not cause heart disease, as long as it is the right type of fat. People in the Mediterranean region have traditionally consumed about as much fat as Americans, yet their risk of heart disease is much lower. The main source of fat in the Mediterranean diet is olive oil, which is high in monounsaturated fat, but low in saturated fat. Monounsaturated fat reduces levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood, and may also raise levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol. In addition, olive oil is rich in antioxidants that may help to protect against heart disease.

What Foods Should You Avoid on the Mediterranean Diet?

The traditional Mediterranean diet is not a vegetarian diet. However, it does downplay red meats such as beef and lamb. Instead, you will ensure an adequate protein intake by eating moderate amounts of poultry, fish, and eggs. While the proteins found in plant foods are usually incomplete, you can combine grains with legumes to form a complete protein.

Whole grains are an important part of the Mediterranean diet, but you should avoid refined grain products, such as corn tortillas and white bread. You should also avoid foods that are high in sugar, corn syrup, and other sweeteners. It's fine to have an occasional dessert, but eating too many sugary snacks will add a lot of excess calories to your diet without adding much in the way of vitamins, minerals, or fiber. A piece of fresh fruit makes a healthy dessert that is in keeping with Mediterranean traditions. It is also possible to create Mediterranean-friendly versions of traditional desserts by replacing white flour with whole-grain flours, butter or margarine with a monounsaturated vegetable oil, and sugar with a whole fruit pure.

As I have already mentioned, the Mediterranean diet is not particularly low in fat. Because fat enhances the flavor and texture of many foods, this can make the Mediterranean diet more enjoyable than low-fat diets such as the Pritikin and Ornish diets. Instead of cutting out fat altogether, your goal on the Mediterranean diet will be to reduce your saturated fat intake by avoiding common sources of this fat, including red meat, chicken skin, butter, and lard. Instead, rely upon monounsaturated oils, such as avocado oil, hazelnut oil, and especially olive oil, for your cooking needs.

Useful External Resources

To be sure about what Mediterranean diet actually is visit www.nlm.nih.gov

Is Mediterranean Diet good for heart? >> healthfinder.gov

Can Mediterranean diet prevent Alzheimer's disease >> : www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Benefits of Mediterranean Diet >> : www.webmd.com

Author: Joshua Beidler, United States

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

Disclaimer: The suggestions in the article(wherever applicable) are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or any other type of advice