If you have been following diets and fitness trends for a while, you might have come across the Mediterranean diet before, although it is not as commonly known as others such as the Paleo diet. While this may be the case, many people believe that as far as eating habits go, the Mediterranean way of eating is close to ideal, with a whole variety of health benefits included in the package. So what are the components of this diet?
Unlike other diets, the Mediterranean way does not actually shy away from carbohydrates. But the fact that people in that area have such a low rate of obesity leads us to believe that there is merit to this dietary style. The main staple in this diet is, in fact, carb based. I’m talking about bread and pasta here. Yes, that’s right! Bread and pasta – the very things every other diet tells you to have much less of.
However, things are not as simple as this. They do not eat any ol’ bread and pasta, you know, the kind that are found in most western diets. Instead, the high-quality type of carbs that they consume include oats, couscous, and other whole grains. As such, if you want to give this diet a shot, try to select whole grain bread, or high-protein semolina pasta.
Apart from this, another thing which distinguishes Mediterranean and western bread and pasta consumption is the aspect of what the staple is paired with when eating them as part of a meal. In the Mediterranean region, whole grain breads are usually eaten with olive oil or nut-based dips like hummus. So if you want to follow the Mediterranean diet, try not to pair the bread with butter or jam.
Now that we have covered complex carbohydrates, what is the deal with sugar-based simple carbohydrates. If you explore the traditional diet in the Mediterranean, you will learn that it is distinctly lacking in baked pasties, sweets and soft drinks. That is not to say that they do not have any sweet foods – they do, but it is just not a staple component of their diet. In other words, the food that they consume are low in added sugars.
What about dietary fat? With a diet that includes carbohydrates, surely the amount of dietary fat is very low, which keeps the overall calorie count low, right? Well, not exactly either. The Mediterranean diet does contain fats that come from healthy oils such as olive oil. Once again, this is different from saturated fats that are found readily in food items of western diets.
The sources of fat found in the Mediterranean way of eating, in addition to olive and canola oils, come from nuts and fish. That means that unlike the dietary fats found in the western diet, people of the Mediterranean get the benefit of other nutrients that are found in their fat sources. This point is significant, as a recent study from The Journal of the American College of Cardiology reported that eplacing just 5 percent of calories from saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by a quarter.
Further to this point, most of the fat sources that are included in the Mediterranean way of eating also includes omega-3-fatty acids. This is significant, as these fatty acids are known to help improve various bodily functions, most notably that of the heart and the brain. While it reported that Americans eat, on average, a fish meal with omega-3-fatty-acids around once a week, people in the Mediterranean tend to have two to three such meals each week.
And just like every other diet, a significant proportion of the Mediterranean diet is made up of plant products. Such natural, plant-based foods include vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and chickpeas. Even their source of fat are also plant-based. And these plant items also tend to be devoid of pesticides, unlike that of the western world.
So is there any evidence that the Mediterranean diet actually works? Well, researchers have actually set up and ran a landmark study known as the Mediterranean diet human clinical trial (PREDIMED), and the results are quite startling. Adhering to a Mediterranean-style diet has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by over 30 percent and stroke by 49 percent when compared to a diet that is normal, but with reduced fat. Furthermore, the Mediterranean diet also reduces waistlines, which is an obvious perk. So are you convinced that you should try the Mediterranean diet yet?
These can fit into the mediterranean diet:
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