The Mediterranean diet is inspired by the foods eaten countries of the Mediterranean coast, such as Greece, France, Spain and southern Italy.
In a way, the Mediterranean diet is similar to other heart-healthy diets. The diet encourages eating foods such as fish, fruits and vegetables, beans and whole grains. Also, this diet does not include many meats, dairy products or sweets. However, in other respects, the Mediterranean diet is different from other heart-healthy diets. For example, generally allow the intake of more calories from fat, as long as you choose unsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats like olive oil. It also allows moderate consumption of wine on a regular basis.
What are the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet?
Some studies have shown that making the Mediterranean diet has many health benefits, especially when combined with exercise. It can help you lose weight, control blood pressure and blood sugar and blood cholesterol. In older adults, may help slow cognitive decline, when the brain does not work as well as before. The Mediterranean diet also protects against some chronic diseases, such as:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Parkinson’s disease
Changing to a Mediterranean diet after being diagnosed with heart disease or cancer, can reduce the chances of dying from the disease.
How do I incorporate the Mediterranean diet to my healthy lifestyle?
There are some simple ways to incorporate the Mediterranean diet to your lifestyle. Try some of the tips listed below. If you have questions, talk to your family doctor.
- Make vegetables, fruits and whole grains the basis of your meals. These foods should form the bulk of their meals. Choose a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and prepare them simply. For example, bake or saute vegetables in olive oil instead of butter. Switch to bread, cereals and pastas. Try different grains such as brown rice, quinoa and millet.
- Use unsaturated fats instead of saturated. Make good decisions about which fats to eat. When cooking, choose unsaturated fats such as olive and canola (rapeseed).Limit intake of saturated fats like those found in butter and in dairy products made from whole milk, margarine and palm and coconut oils. Try to limit the amount you eat dairy products and dairy choose products low in fat.
- Choose snacks that are fresh and healthy. As a snack you can eat a handful of nuts, cashews, almonds or pistachios. Nuts are good sources of unsaturated fats. Spread a slice of bread with some hummus (mashed chickpeas) or peanut butter made from natural products. Cut vegetables and accompany with hummus or with a little oil-based vinaigrette, olive oil, instead of using sour cream or cheese sauce.
- Get most of the proteins from plants, birds and fish.During the week, try to eat mostly vegetarian meals that combine lentils, beans or chickpeas with grains and vegetables. Once or twice a week, bake or cook grilled fish such as tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel or herring.When eating meat, choose poultry instead of red meat.Keep portions in a size 85 to 140 grams (3 to 5 ounces) is equivalent to the size of a deck of cards. Avoid red meats, sausage, bacon and other meats with high fat content.
- Give! The Mediterranean diet can drink wine in moderation on a regular basis. Red wine may have more health benefits than white wine. Women and men over 65 can drink up a glass (or small glass) of wine per day, and men under 65 years, until two (2) drinks per day. Drinking more than this can increase the risk of health problems. If you can not limit the amount you drink or have personal or family history of alcoholism, do not drink absolutely no alcohol.
- Limit sweets. Try to reduce the consumption of carbonated drinks, granola bars or sugary cereals and desserts to one or two times a week. However, if you need something sweet, try eating a piece of fresh fruit, dried or baked.
- Stay active. Remember that physical exercise helps to reinforce the benefits of Mediterranean diet on health. Try to make at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, 5 days a week. Choose to do something you enjoy.Walking, hiking, swimming and bicycling are all good choices.