- The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is a diet that favors fruits, vegetables, and nuts over foods such as red meats, saturated fats and sugars. Some people do not even like to call it a diet-they see it more as a lifestyle. It is named after the people who live near the Mediterranean Sea, who tend to have lives that are long and healthy. Those on a Mediterranean diet tend to have less heart issues and a lower rate of cancer development. Many experts believe that people who live near the Mediterranean Sea are healthier because of their diet and active lifestyle. The Mediterranean diet has been designed to mimic the diet of these people. There have been many studies that have found the Mediterranean diet to be one of the healthiest diets in the world. One great thing about the Mediterranean diet is that it is not structured from one culture-it is a diet that has many common values from many cultures. Since Greeks, Italians, French, and Spanish people all eat different kinds and styles of food; no dish is ever the same. Instead, the Mediterranean diet is a generalized pattern of eating. A basic Mediterranean diet food pyramid includes the categories of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, beans, spices, olive oil, herbs, and seafood. The pyramid suggests that yogurt, cheese, poultry, and eggs should be eaten in moderation and red meat and sugar should be saved for once in a while. It also suggests adding a glass of red wine to your meals, which has been proven to fend off heart disease in regular drinkers. It doesn’t just have to be red wine, however. Recent studies have shown that a small amount of just about any type of alcohol can have the same beneficial effects.
Whole grains are encouraged in the Mediterranean diet because they are not processed, meaning they still contain many of the valuable nutrients that your body needs, like fiber and vitamins. Common grains that qualify for the Mediterranean diet include buckwheat, barley, rice, oats, breads, and pasta. You can often easily switch out white bread and regular pasta for whole-grain versions. They are very easy to find in your local grocery store.
Vegetables are a primary food in the Mediterranean diet because they contain plenty of nutrients and they are filling. You can eat them raw or you can cook them and top them off with a little olive oil. Common vegetables that qualify for the Mediterranean diet include artichokes, Brussels sprouts, celery, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, collard greens, kale, eggplant, mushrooms, lettuce, lemons, onions, peppers, okra, peas, radishes, potatoes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, scallions, zucchini, and spinach. Fruits, like vegetables, are also a primary food group in the Mediterranean diet because of their nutritional benefits. Common fruits that qualify for the Mediterranean diet include avocados, apples, clementine’s, cherries, apricots, grapefruits, dates, figs, melons, nectarines, grapes, pears, oranges, peaches, tomatoes, strawberries, pomegranates, and pears.
Another category of food in the Mediterranean diet is nuts, beans, and legumes. These foods are important because they are good sources of fiber, protein, and good fats. Common foods in this category include chickpeas, almonds, cashews, green beans, lentils, kidney beans, sesame seeds, pistachios, walnuts, and tahini sauce. The two most common types of drinks in the Mediterranean diet are water and wine. Water helps you stay hydrated, has zero calories, and helps boost your levels of energy. It is a better alternative to sugary drinks. Red wine is also popular in the Mediterranean diet because it is known to have positive effects on your health. Of course, you should only drink wine in moderation. The standard serving for men is two five ounce glasses per day and one five ounce glass per day for women. One thing that makes the Mediterranean diet very unique is that it replaces butter, salad dressings, and other fats used for baking and cooking. The best type of olive oil to use is extra virgin. You can also still eat yogurt and cheese if you're trying out the Mediterranean diet, but it is important to limit these products.
Which Pyramid is Better?
The Mediterranean Diet can serve as a good strategy for controlling diabetes, if you have it, and it can help prevent it, if you don't. Since one of the primary risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes is being overweight, following the Mediterranean diet can help you fend it off since it helps you stay fit. It is also a diet that is safe for adults, children, and the elderly. No matter how old you are, you can safely get into a better lifestyle by following the Mediterranean diet. It is also easy to adapt gluten-free, low salt, and Kosher diets to the Mediterranean diet. Finally, don't be worried about having to eat bland food. Sacrificing foods that are high in sugar, fat, and cholesterol does not mean that you have to sacrifice taste. Almost every dish that can be made with foods from the Mediterranean diet is flavorful and savory. Sometimes you will even feel like you are eating out instead of eating at home.
Mediterranean Diet Factors
The Mediterranean diet is not only healthy because of the kinds of foods it promotes-there are some other factors that contribute to good health and a long life expectancy. Mediterranean people are also well-known for sharing their meals, appreciating health, and exercising daily.
For the Mediterranean diet to be successful, you must incorporate plenty of exercise into your life. Although walking is big in the Mediterranean region, you can do any kind of exercise, as long as you keep yourself moving. For the best results, you should try to plan an exercise regimen that contains at least 30 minutes of a moderately intense cardio exercise at least four times a week, while also following a strength training routine that covers all of the major body parts in one week.
The Best and Healthiest Mediterranean Diet Recipes
Black Bean Hummus
Black bean hummus makes for a great and healthy snack, anywhere or anytime. It's also very simple and easy to make-it only takes 5 minutes to prepare and it has a low calorie count.
You will need:
1 garlic clove
½ teaspoon of salt
1 15 oz. can of black beans (drain and reserve juice)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 ½ tablespoons of tahini
10 Greek olives
¾ teaspoon of ground cumin
Use a food processor to mince the garlic. Add the beans, 2 tablespoons of the bean juice, the lemon juice, the tahini, the cumin, the salt, and the cayenne pepper and process the mixture until it is smooth. Top it off with paprika and Greek olives and use it as a dip for pita bread or delicious raw vegetables.
Greek Penne and Chicken
Greek penne and chicken is a delicious and healthy dish that serves as a great dinner. Though this recipe has a higher calorie count than usual, its protein count is tremendous.
You will need:
1 box of penne noodles
1 and 1/3 tablespoons of butter
A red onion, chopped
2 lbs. of skinless, boneless chicken
1 can of artichoke hearts in water
1 tomato, chopped
Half a cup of crumbled feta
2 tablespoons of parley
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 and a half teaspoons of oregano
Boil the penne in water until it is softened. Drain the pasta when it's done cooking. While the pasta is cooking, melt some butter in a skillet over medium to high heat. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook the mixture for 2 minutes. Then add the pieces of chicken and continue to cook until they are golden brown, occasionally stirring for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and drain the artichokes. Add the artichokes along with the tomato, feta cheese, parsley, lemon juice, oregano, and penne. Cook it all until it's hot. Season the dish with salt and pepper and then serve.
Greek Lentil Soup
Greek lentil soup is an excellent, Mediterranean-diet friendly and an easy-to-make dish for anytime of the day. Unlike the first two dishes, this one takes a little longer to make, but its taste and healthy properties are well worth the effort. With a moderate calorie count and fat content, this soup is an excellent dish.
You will need:
8 ozs of brown lentils
¼ cup of olive oil
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1 minced onion
1 large chopped carrot
1 quart of water
1 pinch of dried oregano
1 pinch of dried rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of olive oil to taste
1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar to taste
Fill a pan with an inch of water and the lentils. Over high heat, boil the water and allow the lentils to cook for 10 minutes. Then drain the lentils with a strainer. Dry out the saucepan and add ¼ cup of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, and carrots and stir the mixture for 5 minutes. Next, pour in the lentils, 1 quart of water, the spices, and the bay leaves. Bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the saucepan, and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes. Next, stir in the tomato paste and add salt and pepper if you wish. Cover it again and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes while occasionally stirring. If the soup becomes too thick, you can add water. When it's ready, drizzle it with olive oil or red wine vinegar.
Mediterranean Breakfast Quinoa
This delicious breakfast dish utilizes quinoa, which many people regard as a “super-food” for its extra healthy properties. You can enjoy this dish in the morning for breakfast or at any time of the day, since it only takes 25 minutes to make. This recipe has a moderate calorie count and a high level of protein.
You will need:
1 cup of raw almonds, chopped
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 cup of quinoa
2 cups of milk
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of honey
2 dates, dried, pitted and finely chopped
5 apricots, dried and finely chopped
Over medium heat, toast the almonds for 3 to 5 minutes and set them aside. In another saucepan, heat the quinoa and cinnamon over medium heat until the mixture is warmed through. Stir in the milk and the sea salt. Allow it to boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Next, stir in the vanilla, dates, honey, almonds, and apricots. If you have any leftover almonds, you can top the oatmeal off with them.