Mediterranean diet is ranked as the #1 diet in the world due to the benefits it offers. It is both, a healthy and delicious diet that offers tons of benefits. The main aim of this diet is to reduce risks of catching diseases including heart diseases, cancers, diabetes etc. The food that we consume plays a very important role in our overall health, which is why it is important to be careful about what we eat or not eat. Without much ado, let’s have a look at Mediterranean diet and what it is all about:
The Mediterranean Diet
This diet consists of vegetables, fruits, dairy, olive oil, seafood and grains. You will see foods from different continents included in this diet, which is one of the main reasons why it is so popular all around the globe. Mediterranean diet largely helps in keeping our hearts healthy. Our heart is the core of our body.
You cannot have a healthy body without a healthy heart. Mediterranean diet greatly helps in keeping the heart healthy as it is low in saturated fats and high in monounsaturated fats. Saturated fats increase cholesterol level in the blood that can lead to heart diseases and other severe issues. Since olive oil is a monounsaturated fat source found in this diet, the risk of increased cholesterol is kept at a minimum.
Other than that, it also helps you lose weight. While it is not mainly targeted towards weight loss, it does help as it restricts from eating animal fats, red meat and processed foods.These foods make up the Mediterranean diet:
What To Eat:
- Fresh Fruits: Bananas, apples, figs, grapes, melons, oranges, pears etc.
- Vegetables: Onion, tomato, kale, broccoli, spinach, cucumber, carrot.
- Whole Grains: brown rice, oat, barley, whole wheat, buckwheat, corn, pasta.
- Dairy Foods: Yogurt, cheese, greek yogurt.
- Seafood: sardines, oysters, salmon, trout, tuna, shrimps.
- Poultry: Chicken, turkey, duck, eggs, quail.
- Legumes: beans, peas, pulses, lentils, chickpeas and peanuts.
- Nuts and Seeds: Sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts.
- Tubers: Potatoes, yams, turnips, sweet potato etc.
What Not To Eat
- Refined Oils: canola oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil etc.
- Trans Fats: Found in processed foods and margarine.
- Processed Meat: Hot dogs, processed sausages etc.
- Refined Grains: Things made with refined wheat, white bread etc.
- Added Sugar: Ice cream, candy, soda etc.
Following The Mediterranean Pyramid
Mediterranean is more of a pattern for eating than a diet. Meaning, it is essential to decide on the quantity you’ll eat. Think of it as a pyramid.
Can Eat On a Daily Basis
- Layer no. 6 - The Base: The largest section of the pyramid called the base is the part which contains the foods that you need to eat more frequently. It contains olive oil, beans, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, grains, bread and legumes.
- Layer no 5: Moving one layer above the base, we have seafood. Fish, shrimps and other seafood are rich in proteins, vitamins, nutrients, minerals and omega-3.
- Layer no 4: Here we have dairy products. However, it only includes yogurt, cheese and Greek yogurt.
Can Eat A Few Time Per Week
- Layer No 3: We have poultry and eggs in this layer. These foods shouldn’t be taken on a daily basis but only a few times in a week.
- Layer no. 2: This layer should be avoided as much as possible as it contains foods that are high in sugar such as candies, sweets etc.
Can Eat Once A Month
- Layer 1: It contains red meat. The intake of this food should be kept at minimal, and should not be eaten more than once a month..
Make sure to follow this pyramid and eat foods recommended by it to gain maximum benefits.
Benefits Of Mediterranean Diet
There’s a reason that Mediterranean diet is at the top. Let’s look at its benefits:
Good Heart Health
It keeps your heart healthy by restricting you from eating added sugars and red meats. With a strong cardiovascular system, your risk of catching diseases such as strokes, heart attacks is reduced.
Since this diet has low amounts of saturated fats in it and an increased amount of monounsaturated fats (olive oil), it helps you lose weight.
Keeps Your Muscles Strong
The diet is full of vitamins, minerals, and proteins which ensure that a person stays agile even as he/she ages. The seafood and vegetables that you eat on a daily basis make your muscles stronger and give you a boost of strength to carry out physical activities.
Reduces Risk Of Alzheimer’s Disease
The diet improves blood flow, cholesterol levels and blood sugar level. Therefore, the risk of catching Alzheimer's or dementia is reduced. Research has also shown that Mediterranean diet gives protection against cognitive decline and ensures that people can preserve the quality of their life even when they age.
Improves Skin Quality
You get plenty of vitamin E and antioxidants in this diet. The combination is known to give a radiant and glowing skin.
Other benefits include reduced rate of cancers, diabetes, and Parkinson disease. Moreover, it increases longevity, fertility in women and also helps to enhance mood.
Mediterranean Recipes To Know About
Let’s look at some finger licking recipes included in this diet.
Mediterranean Potato Salad (1 hour)
- Potatoes (2 pounds)
- 1 sliced and quartered cucumber
- Sliced red onion - half cup
- 1 pound of tender green beans
- 3 large roasted bell pepper
- Salted water (for every quarter of water take 1-½ tbsp of salt)
- Add the potatoes in a large pot and add water so they are fully submerged. Add 1½ tbsp. of salt for every quarter of water you add. Bring to a simmer on high heat. Lessen the heat to maintain a simmer.
- Let it cook for 15 minutes or more (depending on how many potatoes you’re cooking). Check with the knife if the potatoes are piercing easily after 15 minutes. If they are, drain and put the potatoes on a sheet pan so as to allow them to cool at room temperature. In case you’re in a hurry, you can also cool them in the refrigerator.
- While the potatoes are cooling, take another pot of salted water (2 quarts of water), boil it and add the green beans.
- Blanch for 4 minutes.
- Turn the heat off once they’re tender, remove them and empty in a container that has cold water.
- Once the potatoes have cooled, cut them into pieces and place in a bowl.
- Add bell peppers, green beans, red onion, roasted pepper and cucumber to the potato bowl and mix well.
- Time to serve.
Curried Cod (ready in 25 minutes)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 chopped onion.
- 2 tablespoon medium curry powder
- Finely grated and peeled Ginger (thumb sized piece).
- 3 crushed garlic cloves.
- Chopped tomatoes (2 x 400 gm cans).
- 4 cod fillets (150gm each)
- Chopped coriander
- Zest 1 lemon, cut into wedges.
Method: Take a large frying pan with a lid and heat oil in it.
Cook the onion first over a high temperature for a few minutes and then add curry powder, ginger, garlic, and stir the mixture nicely.
Cook for 2 minutes until fragrant and then add chickpeas, and tomatoes. Keep cooking for 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens; when it does, add the cod (fish).
Cover and cook for 5 additional minutes to cook the fish. Distribute the lemon zest coriander and serve with lemon wedges.
How Soon Can You See The Results?
It takes time for the results to show when you’re on a Mediterranean diet. You won’t experience sudden changes in your body.
Most people begin to see results within four weeks, but this largely depends on your body time and metabolism rate. However, stick to the routine even if you do not see the results, because what is happening inside may not always be visible on the outside.
This diet is perfect for people who are looking to live for years to come as it reduces the risks of some of the most serious diseases. Moreover, it also makes you look good via weight loss and improved skin.