Studies show that the Mediterranean diet is ideal for a long and healthy life. It includes all necessary Essential nutrients from food for a balanced diet. In this diet, you need to increase your intake of fresh vegetables and fruits and stay away from processed food products. The article presents an overview of foods to take and avoid, along with a 5-day meal plan.
Today, health experts around the world suggest the Mediterranean diet for a healthier and longer life. While a modern mind would probably envision exquisite Italian pasta at the mention of Mediterranean food, it goes much further than that.
In the 1960s, people in Italy, Greece and other Mediterranean regions followed eating habits that protected them from chronic diseases. At the time, Mediterranean countries were known to have one of the world’s highest life expectancies and the fewest health problems.
Before the westernization of food patterns, the Mediterranean diet referred to the region’s traditional vegetables, fruits, oils, and other staples. With the rise of lifestyle diseases, more and more dietitians are advocating adopting the Mediterranean diet.
The World Health Organization (WHO) considers the Mediterranean way of eating sustainable and environmentally friendly. A complete guide to learning and adopting the Mediterranean diet plan is given below:
What is the Mediterranean Diet Plan?
The Mediterranean diet plan mainly relies on high intake of plant-based food products and limited consumption of meat products. It is composed of dietary practices that significantly reduce the risk of health problems like diabetes, cancer, depression, heart attacks, obesity etc. The diet includes the following foods:
Mediterranean diet foods to eat:
- Regular consumption of fruits and vegetables
- frequent consumption of whole grains and legumes
- Daily use of olive oil, nuts and seeds as a source of fat
- moderate intake of dairy products
- Occasional consumption of eggs, meat, fish and alcohol
- Rarely consuming honey and added sugar
The ratio of the various components in the Mediterranean diet is sufficient to provide you with well-balanced nutrition. It primarily focuses on utilizing monounsaturated fat resources and avoiding saturated and trans-fats. The former are generally classified among the healthy fats because they offer many health benefits.
Since it’s really not easy to change your eating habits and suddenly switch to a completely different eating routine, you can start with eliminating unhealthy choices first.
Foods to avoid on the Mediterranean diet:
Before following a strict Mediterranean diet plan, you need to stay away from certain types of food such as:
- butter and refined oil
- Refined grains such as white bread and pasta, pizza, and food products made with white or refined flour
- processed and packaged food products
- red meat
- desserts with high sugar
The above listed food products are associated with many health disorders due to their constituency and low nutritional value. In addition, you should always read food labels carefully, as some health-claiming products also contain unhealthy ingredients.
Once you are done abstaining from unhealthy food choices, you can move on to a disciplined Mediterranean diet chart.
benefits of mediterranean diet
A typical Mediterranean diet includes all the essential nutrients and minerals that boost your immunity against common chronic diseases. Hence, it protects you from various health problems. Research studies show that the Mediterranean diet also enhances sleep quality and reduces frailty, especially in older age. Below are the major beneficial components of Mediterranean food:
#1 Made from Good Fats
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes foods high in monounsaturated fats. These types of fats protect you from obesity, heart disease and cholesterol problems.
#2 High in Fiber
The diet includes high fiber content such as fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains. Dietary fiber plays an important role in digestion and hence reduces the risk of diabetes and gastric problems.
#3 Rich in Antioxidants
Mediterranean foods are rich in antioxidant vitamins and minerals. These ingredients control growth and prevent cell damage. In other words, antioxidants act as powerful anticancer agents.
#4 Low in Bad Sugar
The diet focuses on the natural sugar provided by fresh fruits and advises against processed sugars. These natural sugars meet the essential caloric requirements and protect you from complications related to obesity.
Traditional Mediterranean culture originally advocated a moderate way of eating as opposed to modern fad diets, which often result in deficiencies.
Drawbacks of the Mediterranean Diet
Before following the Mediterranean diet, you should be aware of your current health issues and other preferences. Given below are some of the problems that may arise due to the Mediterranean diet:
additional guidance needed
People suffering from diabetes, gluten intolerance, or high cholesterol should ask their doctor before starting the Mediterranean diet. This is because the diet includes fat, gluten and carbohydrate resources such as nuts, whole grains, olive oil, fruits, etc.
low levels of nutrients
The Mediterranean diet promotes limited intake of dairy products, meats and similar foods. If you have a calcium or iron deficiency, these foods need to be taken in higher amounts than Mediterranean foods.
5 Day Mediterranean Diet Plan
Adding variety to your food menu is a great way to start a healthy lifestyle. This way, you enjoy different food products and stay motivated. Eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t eat delicious food. Listed below are some amazing options that you can incorporate into your 5-day routine:
|1||Greek Yogurt with Fresh Berries, Oats, and Nuts||Mediterranean pizza, made from whole wheat, topped with cheese, vegetables and olives.||Grilled Vegetable Kebabs with Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing with Quinoa and Nuts Salad|
|2||Whole Grain Bread Sandwich Filled with Fresh Vegetables and Low-Fat Cheese||A bowl of Greek salad – peppers, olives, cucumber, onion, tomato, and feta cheese with olive oil and vinegar dressing.||Tuna salad and some fruit for dessert|
|3||Omelet topped with vegetables and olives||Grilled Chicken with Steamed Vegetables with Herb Sauce||Salad with tomatoes, olives and feta cheese. a slice of multigrain bread|
|4||Whole-grain oats sprinkled with nuts, raisins, dates, cinnamon, and honey/maple syrup||Roasted Chicken and Vegetables in Olive Oil and Lemon and cup couscous||1 Roasted Potato with Roasted Salmon|
|5||1 pan-fried egg with whole grain toast||Wheat Pasta with Roasted Chicken and Vegetables in Tomato Sauce||Steamed vegetables in herb and tomato sauce|
While preparing the above menu for yourself, keep the following points in mind:
- You can add vegetables like tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, onions, olives, zucchini, spinach etc. for stuffing or topping in your recipe.
- For frying or frying a variety of foods, use a moderate amount of virgin olive oil.
- Add a variety of legumes like peas and beans when making this steamed vegetable recipe.
- Always choose fruits instead of sweets loaded with artificial sugar. The Mediterranean diet typically includes fruits such as apples, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, raspberries, blackberries, oranges, avocados, figs, dates, melons, peaches and bananas.
- Recommended nuts and seeds are walnuts, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, sesame etc.
Apart from these above mentioned meals, there will be times when you crave for an evening snack. During these times, it is best to go for the following options:
- A handful of roasted nuts and seeds
- Fresh Fruit Slices with Almond Butter
- some raw carrots
- a small serving of Greek yogurt
- dried fruits such as apricots
- certain grapes, berries, or similar fruits
Most research studies and scientific evidence show the positive effects of the Mediterranean diet on the overall health of the human body. However, along with this diet chart, you also need to adopt an active lifestyle for long term benefits.
Although a healthy person rarely experiences any side effects of the Mediterranean diet, some people may experience some complications. It is always better to consult an expert before adopting a Mediterranean lifestyle.
Undoubtedly, the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest and tastiest ways to eat. However, for best results, you should follow a moderate workout routine with a Mediterranean diet for a healthy body.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Does consumption of nuts cause weight gain?
A. Nuts contain healthy fat, which helps you to lose weight and keep away from heart problems. They also offer good nutritional value, unlike unhealthy fats. However, it is better to consume them in moderation. Most nutritionists recommend eating 30 grams of nuts daily.
Q. Is alcohol allowed in the Mediterranean diet?
a. Yes, the diet allows a limited amount of alcohol, especially red wine. While 1-2 glasses of wine may not do any harm, avoid drinking it in large quantities. In addition, the Mediterranean diet discourages the consumption of hard alcohol.
Q. Will the Mediterranean Diet Make Me Feel Hungry or Hungry?
a. Considering the balanced nature of Mediterranean foods, they are unlikely to leave you feeling hungry or hungry. Since the diet includes optimal amounts of nuts, whole grains and other healthy sources of calories, this will be enough to keep you feeling full.
Q. Is the Mediterranean diet more expensive than a standard Western diet?
a. Due to the wide range of food components, the Mediterranean diet can cost a bit more than the standard Western diet. The exact prices of various food products depend on your region and country. Also, if you depend mostly on easy-to-find fast food, the overall cost of Mediterranean foods can be comparatively less.
Q. Are Mediterranean foods readily available?
A. Yes, you can find most Mediterranean foods at your local grocery store. Food products in the Mediterranean diet are the only basic and commonly available vegetables, fruits, dairy products, nuts, whole grains, etc. Therefore, you can easily make use of many Mediterranean foods.