The Mediterranean diet is a modern nutritional recommendation inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of southern Italy, Greece, and Spain. The diet is abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil. It encourages moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate to high consumption of fish, low consumption of meat and meat products specially red meat, which contains more saturated fat.
Several research studies have shown that benefits of following a Mediterranean-style eating pattern are many: reduction of risk of heart attack, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, improved weight loss, better control of blood glucose (sugar) levels and diabetes, reduced risk of depression etc.
For all these reasons, most experts encourage healthy adults to adapt a style of eating like that of the Mediterranean diet for prevention of major chronic diseases. Here are some tips to follow the useful and healthiest diet:
1. Replace butter and margarine with healthy oils as often as possible:
Use olive oil—a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats—as your primary fat for cooking and baking. Other plant-based oils, such as canola or walnut oil, are also rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Switch up your proteins:
Swap out most of your red meat and get your protein from skinless chicken, fish, beans, nuts and other plants. Start by making a few small changes. Aim to eat fish of any kind—except for fried, of course—twice a week.
3. Eat veggies all day long:
Most people do not get enough vegetables. Aim for 3 to 8 servings of vegetables a day. A serving size is ½ to 2 cups depending on the vegetable. Pick vegetables in a variety of colors to get a range of antioxidants and vitamins.
4. Enjoy fruit for dessert:
Generally a good source of fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants, fresh fruit is a healthy way to indulge your sweet tooth.
5. Set aside enough time to savor every bite:
Eating like a Mediterranean is as much lifestyle as it is diet. Instead of gobbling your meal in front of the TV, slow down and sit down at the table with your family and friends to savor what you are eating. Not only will you enjoy your company and your food, eating slowly allows you to tune in to your body’s hunger and fullness signals. You are more apt to eat just until you are satisfied than until you are busting-at-the-seams full.