What Is Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet is a modern nutritional diet inspired by the traditional diet plan prominent in Greece and southern Italy in the 1960s. This is also one of the most popular diets in the world. As a matter of fact, in late 2010, UNESCO actually recognized this dietary pattern as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Greece, Italy, Spain, and Morocco.

As many people may well know, the Italians and Greeks are food lovers. For them, preparing foods and eating them is an art form. Their cuisine is known for their rich, flavorful foods, herbs and spices, and the perfect beverages to wash them down. While all these sounds luxuriant, the Mediterranean folks are unbelievably healthier than you would expect and are actually living longer than the rest of the world. They also have only a third of the cancer incidents in the US, and have a 20% reduced risk of dying of a coronary artery disease. The secret lies in the Mediterranean diet.

It’s All About the Heart

The Mediterranean diet is known as a heart-healthy eating plan. It involves eating the right foods, and mostly these are foods that are beneficial for the heart. This diet plan does not involve starvation or deprivation. All it requires is discipline in your choice of food. And so far, it has worked; research shows that people on the Mediterranean diet has a reduced risk of heart disease. An analysis conducted on more than a million healthy adults that the Mediterranean diet also linked it to a reduced risk of cancer, Pakinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular diseases in general. As you can observe, these are the most dangerous chronic diseases plaguing people’s health these days.

Components of the Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean Diet
Photo Credit: snowpea & bokchoi

To make your Mediterranean diet successful and to reap its full benefits, you have to make sure all the components are present. These components focus mainly on eating fresh and healthy foods, cooking and processing food less, and finding healthier alternatives to the usual components of the western diet.

The main ingredients of the Mediterranean diet include:

  • Lots of exercise
  • Plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes
  • Healthy fats from olive oil and canola oil instead of trans fats and saturated fats
  • Herbs and spices instead of salt
  • Fewer red meat consumption in a single month
  • Regular bi-weekly intake of fish and poultry
  • Moderate red wine consumption

Tips on Starting A Mediterranean Diet

Read food labels. The Mediterranean diet is not just a diet plan; it is a way of life. In fact, it’s the one diet that puts the greatest importance to reading and interpreting food labels and differentiating from good fats and bad fats.

Always substitute. The Mediterranean diet does not say anything about depriving or missing out. You can have delicious flavorful foods with not a key ingredient missing. The secret lies in substitution. For example, instead of using your regular cooking oil, why don’t you use canola oil or olive oil, which are both staples of the diet plan. Look for natural peanut butter than hydrogenated ones. This is also why the Mediterranean diet involves plenty of herbs and spices for taste.

Control your portions. The Mediterranean diet also advises against eating very large portions at each meal. Proponents of this diet believe that a small elegant portion is enough to satisfy the senses. Anything more than that is considered as the intake of unnecessary food into the body. Don’t worry, this diet won’t cause you to starve. Since it consists of only healthy foods and healthy fats, you will feel full and satisfied longer without compromising your weight.

Published by

Vanjo Merano

I blog about Filipino and Asian food and recipes.