What is the Mediterranean diet?

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Every diet has its pros and cons, but one diet which seems to be viewed in a positive light by many weight loss specialists is the Mediterranean diet. According to various studies that have been carried out regarding this diet, it seems that it does prove to be effective for weight loss, and there seem to be numerous health benefits associated to it. Let us elaborate a bit further on the Mediterranean diet.

As the name itself implies, this is a diet that emerged from the Mediterranean cuisine from various countries that are situated along the Mediterranean Sea. These include France, Italy and Greece. In such Mediterranean countries, there is a lot of emphasis on seafood, cereals, nuts, vegetables and fruits. Some of the main aspects of this diet revolve around consuming starchy foods, plenty of vegetables and fruit, and opting for fish and poultry rather than meat. Mediterranean dishes often include a healthy amount of such foods, as well as the use of olive oil rather than butter. Olive oil in fact offers several healthy monounsaturated fats and plant compounds technically referred to as polyphenols, which are known to be very good for the health. Needless to say, the food options that we just mentioned are all quite healthy, and so sticking to a diet where such foods are given importance when preparing meals, is going to lead to a rather healthy diet.

A Mediterranean diet typically includes consuming a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. So, side dishes will include a good portion of vegetables, and snacks will be typically fruit salads. Fruit is also used a lot in desserts. Generally five portions of fruits and vegetables per day are recommended when one decides to follow a Mediterranean diet.

Nuts, legumes and seeds are also key ingredients in a Mediterranean diet. These are great sources of protein and fiber. They are also exceptional ways to derive healthy fats and antioxidants. So a cup of mixed nuts a day is a common snack, and a very healthy one indeed. Many Mediterranean dishes typically include the use of legumes and seeds, and many use them when preparing snacks and soups.

There is no doubt that a key ingredient in Mediterranean dishes is seafood. Obviously this derives from the fact that such countries are along the Mediterranean sea and so fish and seafood is a prime ingredient in the cuisine of these countries.

Lean protein is an important nutrient in one's diet, and this is attained from beans and pulses as well as eggs in Mediterranean cuisine. Combining eggs with vegetables is common, so vegetable fritattas are very popular for example.

Dairy products are also important in a Mediterranean diet. Fresh cheese, ricotta and yogurts are very popular in fact.

Herbs and spices are widely used in Mediterranean dishes. Most of these herbs and spices are known for heir respective health benefits and positive effects, and so since they are used in many Mediterranean dishes one can conclude that there is a lot to be gained health-wise from this norm. Salt is not used much in Mediterranean cuisine, and this is beneficial to one's health and wellbeing.

Mediterranean diets also include a healthy amount of whole wheat bread as well as whole grains. Quinoa and hummus are also commonly consumed. Starchy carbs derived from pasta, rice, bread and potatoes are also common in Mediterranean diet plans. As much as possible though one should opt for healthier options such as whole grains.

There are known health benefits to sticking to water as the main beverage. The Mediterranean diet also promotes this. However, speaking of beverages, the typical Mediterranean diet plans also recommend a cup of espresso for improved digestion and red wine in moderation.

These are the key food and drink choices when one decides to opt for a Mediterranean diet. It is evident that they are healthy choices and so there is no doubt that this type of diet improves one's health and well being and can also lead to a good weight. Moreover, various studies and research proved over and over again that people who prepared meals with fresh produce such as fish, poultry, vegetables, and whole grains, not only manage to retain a healthy weight, but also benefit from health benefits such as a lower risk for heart disease, as well as depression and dementia.

If you were to draw up a food pyramid based on the Mediterranean diet you would find that the foundation of the diet will be fruit and vegetables, along with nuts, legumes, olive oil, whole grains and spices. Then, there will be the second major building block of this pyramid composed of fish and seafood. Higher up one will include poultry, eggs and dairy products, which are to be included in one's diet but in moderation. The peak of this food pyramid based on the Mediterranean diet will be made up from meat and sugary foods. These are in fact to be avoided and minimized as much as possible if one wishes to stick to this type of diet. This should have placed a good idea of what the Mediterranean diet is all about.

There are several recipes that are very good as well as healthy that one can prepare with a Mediterranean diet plan. The most important thing is to focus on the use of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains, and to use olive oil instead of butter. Many foods are prepared from fresh produce and grilling is often the option when it comes to cooking fish and seafood. Red meat should be limited to a few times a month only, and herbs and spices should be used to give that extra flavor to dishes instead of salt. These are in a nutshell the building blocks of a Mediterranean diet. It is not one of the most difficult or demanding diets to follow and there are countless simple recipes that one can prepare by bearing in mind the use of such food options. So all in all this is a simple but healthy diet to follow for a healthy lifestyle and weight.

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