The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional foods that people who lived around the Mediterranean Sea ate about 50 years ago. Back then, researchers noted that people in Spain, Greece, and Italy lived longer and had lower levels of heart disease than Americans.
As one of the most studied diets, the research focuses on what it is about the diet that is so healthy. For instance, eating a Mediterranean diet is linked with
- Lower levels of obesity
- Better blood sugar control
- Lower risk of heart disease and stroke
- Less arthritis-related pain
- Reduced risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases
- Fewer cancers
- Less premature death
As a bonus, it’s also an eating style that people are able to stick with long-term. This is because it focuses on healthy whole-foods without being overly restrictive. And it is relatively inexpensive.
What Food is Included?
The Mediterranean diet is full of healthy whole foods including:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
- Fish, seafood and small amounts of meat and eggs
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Herbs and spices
These foods are not only full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fibre but also, the food is eaten in social settings where it is shared and enjoyed slowly. This is a great example of the importance of how you’re eating in addition to what you’re eating.
The main beverage for the Mediterranean diet is water. Black coffee, clear tea and red wine (no more than one 4 oz glass per day with a meal) are also enjoyed.
What’s Not Included?
Most foods that aren’t included are ones that are highly processed and unhealthy like:
- Processed meats
- Sugar-sweetened beverages or fruit juices
- Refined grains and oils
- Excess salt
- Added sugars
The Mediterranean diet is a whole-foods diet focused on plant foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains). It also contains fish, olive oil, and herbs and spices. It is high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fibre; all of which are health-boosting from your head to your heart to your joints… and the rest of your body.
Don’t forget that health involves more than food alone. The Mediterranean diet is more of a complete lifestyle including regular exercise, social and community involvement and overall enjoyment of life.
Do you think you could add or ditch certain foods to get closer to the Mediterranean diet? Do you have a favourite recipe that embodies this way of eating? I’d love to know! Here’s my favourite Mediterranean Salad. And if you want help investigating which diet is best for you and your goals, book a call with Bonnie.