The Mediterranean diet is a carefully curated plant-based diet that emphasizes whole grains, fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, lean proteins, seafood, and olive oil as a source of fat. Unlike other diets we are used to, a Mediterranean diet doesn’t mean we rely solely on dull foods such as oats and cereals, which happen to become boring within a few days. The Mediterranean diet originates from the dietary traditions of the people of Greece, Spain, and southern Italy. Like the sunny beaches of Mediterranean coasts, such a diet is exciting and will surely bring you the motivation to stick to it.
Below is an overview of the key components and benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
Plants based foods
Taking up this diet means emphasizing plenty of fruits and veggies. It eases digestion due to high fiber intake and slows down the body’s aging process with the help of antioxidants. Further, soluble dietary fiber lowers blood glucose and cholesterol levels, reducing the risks of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Bread plays an important part in the Mediterranean diet. Grains hardly contain unhealthy fats, and bread is consumed plain or dipped in flavored olive oil. Unlike butter or margarine, olive oil does not contain saturated or trans fats (unhealthy fats). Other grains present in Mediterranean dishes are mainly couscous, rice, pasta, and bulgur.
Nuts, namely, almonds, sesame, pistachio, and hazelnuts, are high in unsaturated fats and calories and are consumed unprocessed. Candied, honey-roasted, and heavily salted nuts are hence to be avoided.
A Mediterranean diet revolves around olive oil, being the primary source of healthy fat. Virgin olive oils are unprocessed and are packed with unsaturated fats and protective plant compounds (antioxidants). Nuts and fatty fish like Mackerel, herring, sardines, and albacore tuna, also contribute a large part to the intake of healthy fats. Fish is consumed on a daily basis, adding Omega-3 fatty acids to the diet, which reduces the risks of heart diseases.
A final touch to a Mediterranean dish is red wine. Excessive alcohol consumption leads to health consequences; however, a moderate daily intake of red wine is known to lower the levels of saturated fats. Red wine contains resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant that protects the linings of the heart’s blood vessels.
The Mediterranean Diet is first and foremost delicious since processed foods are virtually absent, and the focus is on seasonal and local foods. A Mediterranean diet coupled to daily exercising creates a lifestyle, the paradigm of well-being.