The Mediterranean Diet
The standard American diet today is extremely high in saturated fats, omega-6 fatty acids, and artificial additives. The Mediterranean diet advocates to consume mainly fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, seafood, and olive oil. It recommends to limit poultry, eggs, cheese, and other dairy products. Lastly, it suggests cutting out red meat completely or consuming it rarely. This diet focuses on whole foods and stays away from processed foods.
The Mediterranean diet, as any other diet, is broken down into three main components: carbs, proteins, and fats. The diet does not advocate low carbs, since it is believed to potentially lead to inadequate energy intake (agreed!). The carbs in the diet are also very fibrous. Foods like green leafy vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes, and beans should be included in this category. The diet also includes healthy fats, consumed in moderation, in order to help raise HDL and lower LDL cholesterols. Healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and fish rich in omega-3s are emphasized. Fats like margarine, shortenings, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are avoided.
So why take on the Mediterranean diet? It’s not restrictive. The idea behind this way of eating is to not only be healthy but to enjoy life. Having a glass of wine a day is actually suggested and I love that mental health is included as part of the diet. If you’re having a hard time going fully plant-based, this diet has shown incredible health benefits compared to the standard American diet. It allows room for meat lovers and vegetarians to find their middle ground. This diet has been found to be a powerful weight loss or maintenance tool as well as lowering chances of coronary heart disease, diabetes, and strokes. Overall, we can see a clear pattern in ideal diets that help prevent and reverse medical issues. Which is high consumption of whole plant-based foods with minimal lean animal protein intake while avoiding processed foods and red meat completely. Find what works best for you! As a preventative nutritionist, I love the Mediterranean diet.
Fun Fact: The Mediterranean Diet is based on traditional foods from European and Middle Eastern countries such as Greece, Italy, and Lebanon.