The Mediterranean diet has been gaining momentum since the 90s, when it was introduced to the general populace by a Harvard professor as an ideal diet for both losing weight fast, as well as preventing or clearing up health issues. Beginning in Southern Italy, this diet is now characteristic of Spain, Portugal, Greece, and several other countries bordering the Mediterranean. However, this diet is not just a list of food, but a lifestyle.
What does the Mediterranean diet entail?
The Mediterranean diet is all about fresh food and clean living. The Mediterranean diet does not include processed foods, but utilizes fresh foods that come from the region. The diet includes many plant-based foods, healthy fats, and more than anything, olive oil. Here are some foods that are a part of the standard Mediterranean diet:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Fresh fish
- Legumes and beans (especially chickpeas)
- High quality meat (usually poultry, red meat is only eaten at most once per week)
- Coffee and/or tea
- A glass of wine
- Lots of water
- Olive oil (look for extra virgin)
Reading this list, you may realize that this is a fairly all-encompassing diet. It contains numerous food groups and options for meals, while also including what we may consider “guilty pleasures” such as coffee or wine. It very much allows you to “eat, drink, and be merry” while improving your overall health.
However, as stated above, the Mediterranean diet is not just about what you eat, but what you do in your daily life. The lifestyle in the Mediterranean is often seen as very relaxed. People walk much more often, stop long enough to eat their meals in a reasonable amount of time, and are generally far less stressed than the average citizen of many other countries. This lifestyle in combination with the diet can have some incredibly positive health benefits.
What Are the Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet can not only help you to get to and maintain a healthy body weight, it can also fight or prevent diseases and encourage a longer life span. Here are some of the health benefits that are associated with the Mediterranean diet:
- Safe Weight Loss: Many diets have you focus on fewer calories in order to lose weight. Instead, the Mediterranean diet includes necessary fats and nutrient-dense foods in order to help you to feel full. Not to mention, it’s one of the easiest diets to help you manage the weight loss long term.
- Helps Your Heart: The ingredients included in this diet such as omega-3 foods and olive oil can all help in terms of heart health. Omega-3 foods are associated with lower rates of heart disease, and olive oil decreases blood pressure, which in turn keeps arteries dilated and clear.
- Lower Cholesterol: The Mediterranean diet is low in sugars and artificial ingredients like preservatives or high fructose corn syrup due to its fresh nature. This in combination with fewer heavy meals and red meats is a great way to improve cholesterol.
- Protects Cognitive Health: Healthy fats in combination with anti-inflammatory vegetables and fruits are known to fight cognitive decline. It may be a natural Parkinson’s treatment, and a huge help in naturally treating Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- Longer and Better Life: Fresh plants and healthy fats, such as monounsaturated fat, are seemingly the equation for a long life. The Mediterranean diet, as you have seen above, is known for preventing some of the leading causes of death in developed nations. Not only is it known for longevity, it is also proven to boost your mood, and the lifestyle includes many activities to bust stress. So who knew? The path to a longer and happier life is full of fresh foods, a little wine, and a lot of olive oil.