Why The Mediterranean Style Diet
May Be The Best For You
The Mediterranean Diet seems to help guard against obesity (a risk factor for many health conditions) and diseases associated with chronic inflammation— diabetes, heart disease including plaque buildup in the arteries, lung cancer and other lung diseases, cancer and cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s.
Rather than focusing on individual nutrients—like just eating more citrus for its vitamin C, for example—the Mediterranean Diet takes a holistic approach. It’s thought that the sum of all its parts (or foods) equals the healthiest food intake you can choose.
- Eat primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables—six or more servings each day, plus whole grains, legumes and nuts. As healthy as they are, nuts are very high in calories—have just a handful, about 1 1/2 ounces in total, per day; almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts are great choices.
- Eat seafood—fish and shellfish—at least twice a week, preferably grilled, broiled or baked, not fried or dredged in batter. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines and albacore tuna, are rich sources of healthful omega-3 fatty acids. Have moderate portions of poultry a couple of times a week and limit red meat to a few times a month maximum.
- Flavor your food with herbs and spices instead of salt.
- Drink red wine in moderation.
- Replace butter with healthy fats. The primary oil in the Mediterranean diet is olive oil, mainly a monounsaturated fat, which can help reduce unhealthy cholesterol when used instead of saturated fat. Extra virgin (the highest quality) olive oils are cold-pressed, which preserves their antioxidant and phytonutrient values. As important as buying fresh olive oil from respected sources, it is important to keep it in a cool place and to use it within two months. The greatest value comes from consuming the olive oil cool. Heat spoils many of the nutrients and some of the taste.
- Limit dairy; Yes, Italians will have milk in their coffee, but it’s a tiny cup of coffee, with a tiny bit of milk. Have fruit for breakfast. If you want dessert after dinner, have a small gelato (less cream, more milk) or a sorbetto (fruit juice, no dairy) instead of ice cream. And then go for a nice evening stroll.
The Mediterranean diet is varied and not overly restrictive, making it easier for everyone in a family to follow.