The Mediterranean Diet Healthy Eating Plan

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The Mediterranean diet is a healthy eating plan characterized by the traditional cooking style of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. The Mayo Clinic points out that research analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults that followed the Mediterranean diet reduced their risk of death from heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

In addition, the Mediterranean diet is cited for being successful in helping people lose weight in a healthy way.

Mediterranean diet key components

  • Eat primarily plant-based foods, like vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes.
  • When flavoring foods use spices and herbs instead of salt.
  • Use healthy fats, by replacing butter with olive oil.
  • Eat fish and poultry at least twice a week.
  • Limit eating red meats to no more than a few times a month.
  • It’s optional to drink wine in moderation, usually red wine.

The Mediterranean diet includes whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. For instance, most people living in Greece average six or more servings a day of antioxidant fruits and vegetables.

Throughout the Mediterranean region, most people eat plain whole-grain bread dipped in olive oil. They refrain from using margarine or butter, which contain unhealthy trans and saturated fats.

Nuts are also incorporated in the Mediterranean diet. Nuts are high in fat; however, most of the fat is healthy. Since nuts are high in calories, it’s suggested to limit the amount of nuts eaten per day to only a handful. In addition, avoid salty, honey-roasted, and candied nuts, for improved nutrition.

Healthy weight-loss strategy

The Mediterranean diet is also comprised of low-fat dairy food products. Limiting the amount of high fat dairy products like whole and 2 percent milk, cheese, and ice cream is recommended. Switching to skim milk, low-fat cheese, and fat-free yogurt are better alternatives.

Avoid fried or breaded fish when choosing fish for consumption. Healthier choices include salmon, water-packed tuna, herring, mackerel, and trout. For easy cleanup and great taste, broil, grill, or bake fish.

The majority of meals in the Mediterranean diet include a variety of plant foods. Fresh and whole are better choices than processed foods. Whole grain cereals, breads, pasta, and rice are part of the Mediterranean diet, as well.

Fruits and vegetables should be included in every meal. Keep apples, bananas, and baby carrots on hand for snacking. For a quick snack, almonds, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts are a great source of protein, healthy fats, and fiber.

Instead of red meat, fish and poultry are a main staple for the Mediterranean diet. When choosing meat for meals, lean meat is recommended. Additionally, keep portions small—about the size of a deck of playing cards. It’s also suggested to avoid bacon, sausage, and other high-fat processed meats.

Moderation is the key

Careful consideration is necessary when it comes to wine being included in a Mediterranean diet. The health effects of alcohol continue to be debated. Some doctors are hesitant when it comes to including alcohol consumption–primarily due to the health consequences of excessive drinking.

However, for individuals who do not have a family or personal history of alcohol abuse, or if he or she does not have heart or liver disease, some research studies have found moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a reduced the risk of heart diseases.

A moderate amount of alcohol, usually red wine, is typically included in the Mediterranean diet. The recommended amount of alcohol for women of all ages and men older than age 65 is no more than 5 ounces of wine each day. And younger men should consume no more than 10 ounces of wine daily.

The Mediterranean diet isn’t limited to Greek and Italian foods. The region also includes Turkey, Spain, France, Morocco, and other countries. So consider food choices from these other countries, as well.

The Mediterranean diet is satisfying, fulfilling, and a great weight-loss strategy. Practically everything in the diet is good for the brain and heart. The Mediterranean diet is full of antioxidant-rich, lean, and high in fiber foods, which makes this eating style a healthy choice.

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George Zapo, CPH
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George Zapo, CPH is certified in Public Health Promotion & Education. George focuses on writing informative articles promoting healthy behavior and lifestyles. Read more of George's articles at his website: http://georgezapo.com.