While other diets are falling by the waist-side, more and more evidence is being published to show that the mediterranean eating pattern is effective at warding off heart attack, stroke, and premature death.
Good food is a powerful health booster. The mediterranean diet includes whole grains, legumes, fruit, and vegetables which are packed with fiber and slows digestion, also helping to control blood sugar. And the monounsaturated fats in the mediterranean diet, found in olive oil, nuts, and fish can have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help stave off heart disease and many other conditions.
That Mediterranean-style diets have health benefits isn’t necessarily new. Past research has shown that this type of eating pattern can help lower cholesterol, help with weight loss, improve rheumatoid arthritis, and reduce the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and various types of cancer. What is new is the fast-growing mountain of scientific evidence about the diet’s benefits.
The elements of a Mediterranean-type diet:
- Base every meal on fruits, vegetables, whole grains (whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa and bulgur), olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes (lentils, dried peas and beans), seeds, herbs and spices.
- Eat fish at least twice a week.
- Eat moderate portions of cheese and yogurt daily to weekly.
- Eat moderate portions of poultry and eggs every two days or weekly.
- Eat red meat sparingly or limit to three-ounce portions.
- Drink plenty of water each day, and drink wine in moderation—no more than one (5-ounce) glass a day for women, two glasses per day for men.
To jump-start your mediterranean diet, here are five tips:
- Sauté food in olive oil, not butter.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables by having them as a snack or adding them to other recipes
- Choose whole grains instead of refined breads and pastas
- Substitute a fish meal for red meat at least twice per week
- Limit high-fat dairy by switching to skim or 1% milk from 2% or whole.
It also helps to make small swaps for foods you’re already eating. For example, instead of using mayonnaise on your sandwich, try a hummus spread.
For more information on the Mediterranean diet go to the Mayo Clinic