When you first hear of a Mediterranean diet, you may instantly run to a map to remind yourself of just what countries are on the Mediterranean Sea.
The main countries are Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Israel. These are all countries with completely different gastronomic mainstays, so how does a diet combine all of those?
Surely, it must be you’ll be eating paella from Spain, scarfing down escargot from France, loading up on pasta and pizza from Italy, eating your body-weight in durum kebabs from Turkey, and dipping everything into hummus from Israel.
Well, not exactly but that would be pretty delicious!
Today, we’re going to dive into what the Mediterranean diet is and its numerous health benefits. You may not be able to eat all the pizza you want, but there are plenty of other fantastic dishes waiting for you.
What Foods are in the Diet?
So if we determined it isn’t loaded with pizza and paella, what are you going to be eating? The Mediterranean diet is pretty easy to follow and its staples are going to be found in just about every grocery store on the planet, meaning this diet can be the one you take on the road with you.
Let’s run over the basics really quick. With the Mediterranean diet, you’ll be doing the following:
- Eating more fruits and veggies
- Adding more fish to your diet
- Eating less read meat
- Using more olive oil
- Eating more whole grains and pasta
Fruits and vegetables are a big portion of the diet, as you’ll be wanting to make sure and get five servings of each every day. When you do have to eat starchy foods, make sure you’re opting for potatoes and wholegrain rice, bread and pasta options.
Don’t rely on red meat as much, but stick to chicken, fish, and other lean meats instead. You will want to monitor your fish intake and avoid fish that are high in mercury.
For other sources of protein, eat plenty of legumes and bean. Garbanzos are great little add-ons and can be mixed with plenty of other foods.
Hummus can be a big part of the diet and substituted for salsas or other unhealthy dips. Use plenty of unsaturated oils, such as olive oils, for cooking and food prep.
You’ll notice there isn’t a lot of sugar, salt, or foods with a high-fat content. Because the diet is focused on natural food, you’re not going to be ingesting a lot of those three with your daily meals.
When it comes to health benefits, the Mediterranean diet is stocked up on a wide-range of them. One of the best parts of the diet is that it’s very, very low-risk. You won’t find any asterisks when it comes to following this diet.
The Mediterranean diet has been shown to improve overall heart health while lowering the risk of heart disease and the possibility of strokes. Ask just about any doctor, and they’ll recommend you follow this diet for the healthiest heart.
Your brain is the largest organ in your body but also one of the most vulnerable. When it comes to preventing Alzheimer’s or dementia, you can turn to the Mediterranean diet as well.
Those that suffer from these diseases usually have poor vascular health, meaning less blood flow to the brain. By consuming plenty of omega-3s, you’re likely to maintain solid vascular health and a healthier brain.
Lessens the Effects of Depression and Anxiety
While definitely not a be-all, end-all, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to help people combat the effects of depression and anxiety.
These foods will help boost the healthy bacteria in your stomach which will help improve your mood.
Stabilizes Blood Sugar Levels
For those at risk with type 2 diabetes, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar levels and lower risk.
Those that are already affected, it helps maintain their blood sugar level and keep their diabetes under control.
It’s Low Stress
So many other diets have plenty of hoops to jump through, but the Mediterranean diet is pretty straightforward. You’re not going to have a hard time finding the ingredients and staple foods at your local grocery store and any restaurant is going to have similar options.
That means it’s less stress on your to try and find the perfect recipes and perfect foods. You’ll be able to shop just as before without running all over town.