Most healthy diets are plant-based, and the Mediterranean diet is of no exception. This diet consists of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and other healthy fats.
While meat consumption is included in the Mediterranean diet, it is within moderation. This includes eating red meat only a few times each month and making sure to eat fish or poultry at least 2 times each week.
It also encourages people to use herbs and spices to flavor foods instead of salt, get plenty of exercise and drink red wine in moderation.
This is not considered a fad diet, but more of a life-long style of diet.
The Mediterranean Diet is most popular for its benefits to heart health. Individuals who follow a Mediterranean diet have a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality as well as overall mortality.
Beyond the benefits to cardiovascular disease prevention, the Mediterranean diet also helps to reduce the LDL cholesterol in the blood, which is the “bad” cholesterol because it builds up on your arteries.
This diet is also associated with reduced incidence of cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. For women on a Mediterranean diet, the extra-virgin olive oil and the mixed nuts included in the diet may help to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Types of Foods
At the base of this healthy diet are:
fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices.
Adding in red wine, fish and poultry a few times a week and additional items like red meat sparingly round out the diet.
There are still a few healthy reminders for this diet.
First, even though nuts are included as part of the healthy diet, because they are high in calories they need to be eaten in smaller amounts. Think about a small handful a day.
Also, the emphasis on including grains is to make sure they are whole grains. This ensures the nutrients are not processed out of the grains and keeps their health benefits intact.
Finally, getting the antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to 9 servings a day would be ideal for this diet!
The Mediterranean diet does not include processed foods that are devoid of nutrients. It doesn’t include hydrogenated or trans-fats like margarine, and it keeps the intake of saturated fats really low.
Generally, focusing on fresh, whole foods in their most natural state and avoiding as many manufactured products as possible helps you stay within the guidelines of the Mediterranean diet.
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