The Mediterranean Diet
In stark contrast to the currently popular high protein diets like the Atkins diet, Paleo diet and 5:2 diet, the Mediterranean diet is still regarded by many Dietitians and other health and weight loss experts to be the best diet for overall health and weight loss.
Of all the currently popular diets, the Mediterranean diet has the most supporting evidence and research that suggests it has real, long term health, weight loss and longevity benefits.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is based on traditional diets from countries boarding the Mediterranean Sea, including Greece, Italy, France, Spain and Croatia.
Traditional diets in these countries have many similarities, and these form the basis of the Mediterranean diet.
Interestingly, the Mediterranean diet is much more like the Australian healthy eating guidelines recommended by most dietitians and health experts today, because it is far more balanced than diets promoting extremes like cutting out whole food groups.
Instead of recommending that fats be reduced or eliminated from our diet, the Mediterranean diet encourages us to consume more fats, but the healthier unsaturated kind from natural sources. This is a major reason why most experts agree that this diet is heart healthy.
The essential elements of the Mediterranean diet are:
- Plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains (including bread), legumes and nuts form the basis of the diet
- Replacing unhealthy fats, like butter, with healthy fats, such as olive oil, nuts and avocado
- Replacing salt with herbs and spices to flavour food
- Limited red meat consumption to no more than a few times a month
- Increased consumption of fish and poultry
- consumption of low-fat dairy products daily (yogurt, feta cheese, milk)
- Limiting alcohol to a serve (150ml) of red or white wine per day
In addition, the diet recognises the importance of being physically active each day.
Why the Mediterranean Diet works
The Mediterranean diet works for many people because it involves eating a wide range of delicious, healthy meals, and in many instances, people don’t need to completely change their diet, just make a few key modifications and swap some foods for others.
Some of these changes may be as simple as:
- Switching butter with olive oil or canola based spreads and oils
- Switching from white bread to multigrain bread
- Switching to whole-grain rice and pasta
- Eat fruit and vegetables everyday
- Start snacking on nuts and seeds
- Eat fish a few times a week
- Eat chicken a few times a week
- Eat more eggs
- Switch to low fat dairy, including cheeses
- Switch to smaller portions of leaner forms/cuts of red meat
- Drink more water
Another key element of this diet is that it encourages us to eat socially and share food with others.
Mediterranean Diet Meals
Here are some examples of the types of food encouraged by the Mediterranean diet:
- Baba Ganoush
- Pasta Primavera
The Mediterranean Diet is not about quick fixes, superfoods, or alienating foods and food groups. Nor is it a strict list of what you can and can’t eat. Instead, the Mediterranean Diet is the basis of a healthy lifestyle including healthy day-to-day eating, exercise and socialising.
In addition to weight loss, this diet is proven to have a whole range of other health related benefits, especially for cardiovascular health.
Importantly, the Mediterranean diet is a balanced diet that doesn’t restrict or totally eliminate the major food groups.
And for many people, following this diet doesn’t require a radical change to their diet which would more than likely end up leading to them giving up on it. Because it only involves making a few adjustments to their existing diet, this diet is more likely to become a permanent part of their lifestyle.
The team at weightloss.com.au are big fans of the Mediterranean diet and many of our recipes incorporate the principles of this diet.
This article was written by Scott Haywood.
Scott is the editor of weightloss.com.au. Scott has developed an expertise in fitness and nutrition, and their roles in weight loss, which led him to launch weightloss.com.au in 2005. Today, weightloss.com.au provides weight loss and fitness information, including hundreds of healthy recipes, weight loss tools and tips, articles, and more, to millions of people around the world, helping them to lead happier, healthier, lives.
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