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Mediterranean diet is perfect for those individuals who are looking for an eating plan that is heart-healthy. It is a diet which is based on the cooking style of the Mediterranean countries or the countries which lie on the border of Mediterranean Sea.
In a recent study it was demonstrated that people who follow Mediterranean diet have a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality, a reduced incidence of developing various forms of cancer and a reduced incidence of developing chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Key characteristics of Mediterranean diet

Eating plant based foods
The diet includes primarily plant-based foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes. Fresh fruits and vegetables are known for their anti-oxidant properties and are associated with lower levels of LDL (Low density lipoprotein), also known as bad cholesterol, in the blood. High LDL levels lead to formation of plaques or deposits in arteries, called atherosclerosis, eventually culminating in heart disease.
Nuts, another major component of Mediterranean diet, are a rich source of non saturated fat which also prevents heart disease. Nuts, being high in calories should be eaten in moderation, generally not more than a handful per day. Also care should be taken to avoid honey coated and salted nuts.
Whole grains and food items made of whole grains such as pasta and bread are an important part of Mediterranean diet. Whole grains are low in unhealthy trans fats. Foods containing saturated and trans fats such as butter or margarines are not eaten with bread, thus making it a healthy choice. Instead bread is eaten either plain or with olive oil.
Eating healthy fats
In the Mediterranean diet the focus is not on limiting the total consumption of fats, instead it limits the intake of saturated fats and hydrogenated oils both of which are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
Butter and all types of saturated fat rich oils are replaced by olive oil and canola oil. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fat which helps in the reduction of levels of LDL cholesterol, thus prevents heart disease. Extra-virgin and virgin olive oils which are the least processed type of olive oil are also rich in antioxidants.
Canola oil contains omega-3 fatty acids which lower blood triglycerides and decrease clotting of blood. These are therefore associated with improved cardiovascular health.
Eating fish and poultry at least two times in a week
Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, herring etc is eaten on a regular basis as they are also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Replacing salt with herbs and spices
Herbs and spices not only impart taste to food but also contain health health-promoting substances. Herbs and spices replace salt in the Mediterranean diet as too much of salt is not considered good for heart’s health.
Switch to low fat dairy
Instead of eating high fat dairy and dairy products which are rich in saturated fats, Mediterranean diet includes low fat dairy and dairy products.
Limit intake of red meat to only a few times in a month
Red meat is eaten in limited quantities. Also high fat meats such as bacon and sausage are avoided.
Drinking red wine in moderate amounts
If you drink alcohol and there is no medical contraindication, Mediterranean diet advocates drinking a glass of wine at dinner. For non alcoholics, drinking a glass of purple grape juice is an alternative to drinking wine.
Despite all the debate surrounding the health benefits of drinking alcohol, according to certain research studies, moderate alcohol consumption especially wine has been associated with a decreased risk of developing heart disease.
For all the reasons mentioned above, majority of scientific organizations recommend eating like Mediterranean style of eating if you want to prevent the occurrence of major chronic diseases.

Category : Diet Reviews

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