If you have a family history of high blood pressure or heart disease, and you wish to maintain cardiovascular health, you may want to learn about the Mediterranean diet.
Many doctors and nutritionists recommend using the Mediterranean diet to prevent disease and maintain maximum health.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about the Mediterranean diet plan, including the food list.
What Is The Mediterranean Style Diet
Literally, The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional diet of people living in the Mediterranean. This diet includes plenty of fresh produce, whole grains, some healthy fats and fish.
The general standard of the Mediterranean diet is:
- Eat: Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, potatoes, whole grains, bread, herbs, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil.
- Eat in moderation: Poultry, eggs, dairy products.
- Eat only rarely: Red meat.
- Drink: Water, black coffee and tea. Moderate amounts of red wine (around 1 glass per day).
- Don’t eat: Sugary beverages, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods.
Over 50 years ago, Scientists discovered that there were fewer people with coronary heart disease in the Mediterranean countries as compared with the United States.
Later studies have shown that people who live in the Mediterranean region or people who are following a Mediterranean diet have a lower risk of various diseases (including obesity, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease). In addition, their average life span is longer than that of people in other parts of the world.
What Are The Health Benefits Of The Mediterranean Diet
People who follow the Mediterranean diet have a lower risk of various diseases.
The benefits of a Mediterranean diet include:
1. Protect heart health
The Mediterranean diet focuses on “real foods” such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and olive oil.
These foods are rich in antioxidants, which can fight against oxidative stress caused by free radicals. As a result, this diet can protect your heart and reduce the risk of other inflammatory diseases.
Fatty fish is also part of the Mediterranean diet. Fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids have a more obvious protective effect on your heart.
2. Promote brain health
Olive oil and other healthy fat sources in the Mediterranean diet are good for brain health.
A follow-up study of 1864 participants found that people who follow the Mediterranean diet are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other types of cognitive decline.
In fact, the Omega-3 in fatty fish also has neuroprotective properties, which may help fight and alleviate brain function degradation such as Alzheimer’s disease. [*]
3. Prevent diabetes
Whole grains and other healthy carbohydrates in the Mediterranean diet are all complex carbohydrates that can provide comprehensive nutrition and energy.
Moreover, compared with refined carbs, complex carbs have less impact on blood sugar, which can prevent insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the main cause of prediabetes and diabetes.
According to a 2014 study, the Mediterranean diet can help prevent type 2 diabetes and improve the symptoms of diabetic patients.
4. Help you maintain a healthy weight
The effect of the Mediterranean diet on weight loss may not be as obvious as the ketogenic diet. However, increasing fiber intake while reducing red meat, animal fat and processed food intake will eventually lead to weight loss.
High-fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables can increase satiety, reduce appetite and promote metabolism. All of these benefits can help you maintain a healthy weight.
What Foods To Eat On The Mediterranean Diet
Exactly which foods belong to the Mediterranean diet is controversial, partly because there is such variation between different countries.
The diet examined by most studies is high in healthy plant foods and relatively low in animal foods.
The specific ingredients list is as follows:
1. Extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil is the core of the Mediterranean diet. It’s rich in tocopherols, carotenoids and polyphenols, which all have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
2. Red wine
Wine contains antioxidant polyphenols, which can protect your heart. There is a component called resveratrol in polyphenols that has a variety of health benefits, including:
- lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) levels
- increasing good cholesterol (HDL) levels
- lowering blood pressure
- promoting blood circulation
- reducing inflammation
- protecting the brain
- increasing insulin sensitivity
- reducing joints pain
- killing cancer cells
3. Whole grains
- brown rice
- whole-wheat pasta
The main source of protein in the Mediterranean diet is fatty fish and some of these other seafoods.
5. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds contain unsaturated fat and protein. Additionally, they contribute calcium, potassium and fiber to your diet.
- chia seeds
- pumpkin seeds
- sunflower seeds
Vegetables are also an important part of the Mediterranean diet. Your goal should be to eat two servings of vegetables a day.
- green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach
- sweet pepper, green pepper
7. Fresh fruits
Here are some popular fruits of the Mediterranean diet:
Some dairy products can be consumed in moderation on the Mediterranean diet.
9. Poultry / Eggs
The Mediterranean diet does not contain alcohol, carbonated drinks or fruit juice. The diet also limits the intake of red meat and sweets.
In essence, the Mediterranean diet limits processed foods to the greatest extent. Nature and diversity are the main characteristics of the Mediterranean diet. It is not only a healthy eating way of life but can also lead to a healthier lifestyle.
The Mediterranean diet is based on vegetables, fruits, fatty fish and olive oil. By consuming lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats, following this diet can protect your heart and improve overall health.