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Mediterranean Diet 101

October 13, 2019

The Mediterranean diet is one of the most studied diets out there.

 

It's based on the traditional foods that people who lived around the Mediterranean Sea ate about 50 years ago. Back then, in the mid 20th century, researchers noted that people in Spain, Greece, and Italy lived longer and healthier than Americans. And they had lower levels of heart disease, the #1 killer.

 

So, they set out to find what was so healthy in this part of the world. And the research keeps coming in. And it’s pretty impressive.

 

Eating a Mediterranean diet is linked with

  • Less overweight and obesity 

  • Better blood sugar control 

  • Lower risk of heart disease and stroke 

  • Reduced risk of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases

  • Fewer cancers (breast & colorectal) 

  • Less premature death

  • Healthier Microbiome (the good bacteria in your gut)

 

So pretty much just overall awesome-sauce…. Hold the sauce.  

 

Here's another bonus: Many people who start eating a Mediterranean diet stick with it long-term.  Which is often not the case for many of the overly restrictive diets out there.  

 

How’s that for a healthy whole-foods health-promoting not-so-restrictive diet?

 

WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK ON A MEDITERRANEAN DIET

 

The Mediterranean diet is chock full of healthy whole foods.

 

Foods like: 

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Legumes

  • Whole grains

  • Fish and seafood

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Herbs and spices

 

These foods are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fibre. And they’re often eaten in social settings where the food (and the company) is enjoyed.

 

The go-to beverage for the Mediterranean diet is water. Coffee and tea are also regularly consumed (without the addition of lots of cream and/or sugar). And yes, red wine (about 1 glass per day) is very commonly enjoyed.  Although if you hate stopping at one – or you have a super-size me kinda pour than maybe best to take it down to a couple times a week. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer.  

 

 

Some foods and drinks that are eaten in moderation include:

  • Poultry

  • Eggs

  • Cheese and yogurt

 

WHAT TO DITCH ON A MEDITERRANEAN DIET

 

There are many foods and drinks that are not part of the Mediterranean diet. Not surprisingly, this includes many highly processed and unhealthy foods like:

  • Desserts 

  • Processed meats

  • Sauces and gravies

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages or fruit juices

  • Refined grains and oils (including hydrogenated oils)

  • Too much salt

  • Added sugars

  • Red Meat

  • Unfermented Dairy (milk, butter)

 

The Mediterranean diet also incorporates a different lifestyle. Some things to ditch are being too sedentary, eating alone, and being overly stressed (easier said than done, right?).  Check out this blog on ideas to decrease stress levels HERE.

 

CONCLUSION

 

The Mediterranean diet is a very healthy way of eating. It is a whole-foods diet based mainly on plant foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains). It also contains fish, olive oil, and herbs and spices.  The Mediterranean diet is high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fibre; all of which are health-boosting from your head to your heart… and the rest of your body.

 

Don't forget that health involves more than just food. The Mediterranean lifestyle also incorporates regular exercise, eating with people whom you care about, and overall enjoyment of life.

 

Do you think you could add or ditch certain foods to get closer to the Mediterranean diet? Do you have a favourite recipe that embodies this way of eating? I'd love to know!  Shoot me an email HERE *hyperlink mailto:shannon@thrivefromtheinside.com and tell me what intrigues you most about the Mediterranean Diet.  Mine is the daily glass of wine and eating lots of fish!

 

 

ONE PAN ROASTED DINNER

 

Serves 4

 

4 cod fillets
2 handfuls asparagus, ends removed
1 cup black kalamata olives, drained
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise
4 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved

3 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin

2 tsp dried dill

2 dashes freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, sliced

 

Instructions

 

Preheat oven to 450ºF and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the fillets in the middle of the pan. Add the asparagus, olives, garlic, and tomatoes around the fish.

Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with dill and pepper. Slice lemon and place one onto each fillet. Squeeze juice from the rest of the lemon onto the vegetables.  Roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Check if fillets are opaque all the way through and flake easily with a fork. If not, then cook for another few minutes.

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: You can substitute another fish for the cod (e.g., salmon).

 

References:

 

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm

 

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000110.htm

 

http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mediterranean-diet-meal-plan

 

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/5-studies-on-the-mediterranean-diet#section3

 

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801v

 

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/866254

 

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/870593

 

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