Chosen as 2018’s “Best Diet Overall” and “Easiest Diet to Follow” by U.S. News and World Report, the Mediterranean Diet takes on eating styles of countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.
This diet is known to be one of the healthiest diets and is a method of prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
What’s also great about the diet is that it focuses on including certain foods and food groups, and isn’t calorie based. So it’s a diet that is realistic and one can continue it for the rest of their life.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
When researchers noticed that people living around the Mediterranean Sea have lower rates of chronic disease, they began studying why this could be. They found that their unique dietary pattern attributed to their good health.
The diet emphasizes whole foods that are accompanied by a whole slew of nutrients. Therefore, it focuses on plant foods heavily. The other area the diet focuses on heavily are fats. While many believe fats are bad for you, only some fats are. Those who are familiar with the keto diet know that decreasing carbohydrates and increasing fats can actually lead to weight loss. The Mediterranean diet doesn’t limit carbs as much as the keto diet, but a diet high on healthy fats can definitely aid in weight loss.
While plant foods and healthy fats are the main focus, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy can be enjoyed in moderation. The big no-no’s are processed foods, refined grains, red meat, and sugars.
Here are some foods you should eat on the diet:
- Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, spinach, asparagus, kale
- Fruits: apples, oranges, berries, peaches, plums, kiwi, apricots, melons
- Legumes: chickpeas, lentils, beans, peanuts
- Grains: oats, brown rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa, couscous, buckwheat
- Protein: chicken, turkey, fish, seafood, eggs
- Nuts and seesd: almonds, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, macadamias, sunflower seeds
- Dairy: milk, cheese, yogurt
- Fats: avocados, olive oil
- Beverages: water, tea, coffee, red wine
Here are some foods you should avoid on the diet:
- Protein: processed meats, beef, pork
- Refined grains: regular bread, pasta, and rice; crackers and biscuits
- Refined oils: canola oil, corn oil, vegetable oil
- Processed foods: fast food, chips, popcorn, pretzels, etc.
- Sugars: table sugar, candy, dessert, baked goods
Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
The first major benefit of the Mediterranean diet is that it is one of the healthiest diets out there. There are a ton of studies that help prove that the diet improves heart health and protects against type 2 diabetes. One study had its participants eating nuts or olive oil for 3 months straight. Contrary to what one might think, this actually led to improvements in cholesterol and blood pressure. Another study found that eating an ounce of mixed nuts every day for a year can reduce risk of metabolic syndrome by almost 14%. Other studies show that the diet can help decrease the chance of developing type 2 diabetes, and it can help mitigate the symptoms of those with type 2 diabetes.
The second major benefit is weight loss. Because this diet is so healthy, your body will reflect that. You may be wondering how a diet that includes fats, pasta, bread, and wine can lead to weight loss. It’s because these foods leave you fuller for longer, and digest better. It will even help keep blood sugar levels more normal, so you won’t be tempted to open the pantry and indulge on chips and cookies.
Another benefit is improved eyesight and brain function. Eating fish and vegetables, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids and lutein, can reduce the chance you will need cataracts. Moreover, studies have shown that the diet can even reduce the chance of Alzheimer’s disease by 40 percent.
The Mediterranean diet is based on the eating patterns of individuals that live around the Mediterranean Sea. This diet stays away from refined and processed foods, while focusing on whole foods. It also focuses on healthy fats, which can actually help lead to weight loss. While the diet is known as one of the healthiest diets and can lead to weight loss, it shouldn’t be the only focus when trying to lose weight. Exercising is a key part of weight loss, so a combination of both will lead to the best results.
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