Why we should adopt the Mediterranean Diet
- People who live along the Mediterranean have been studied extensively because of their good health and whole diet diets
- The reason why the Mediterranean Diet is so healthy for us is that it eliminates foods that are highly inflammatory to our system, such as meat and dairy
- My rule of thumb is to stick to foods that don’t even have labels, pick fresh fruits and vegetables and enjoy an abundant amount of foods that are grown from the ground
The Mediterranean Diet has been encouraged by many health professionals, including doctors and dietitians. People who live along the Mediterranean have been studied extensively because of their good health and whole diet diets. These diets emphasize plant foods, many healthy fats, and have a limited amount of meat and dairy.
The list of positive health outcomes that this diet produces is remarkable, and includes lowered rates of cancers, heart disease, diabetes, increased protection against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, better fertility, and a greater chance of having a healthy baby.
That is an impressive list, considering those of us in the Unites States struggle with most of those health issues. The reason why the Mediterranean Diet is so healthy for us is that it eliminates foods that are highly inflammatory to our system, such as meat and dairy. That’s not to say Mediterraneans don’t eat animal products, but when they do, it is typically not more than once a week.
What the diet does focus on is plant based foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and olive oil. As a dietitian, I always try to focus on what my clients can eat instead of what they can’t eat.
So, what does this mean for us? If you would like to adopt a diet similar to the Mediterranean Diet to strengthen your health and decrease your risk of developing certain diseases, follow these simple tips.
Focus on eating as many vegetables as possible and supplementing with whole grains. Plant foods are filled with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which are all protective against the many health problems listed above.
Instead of focusing on restriction, focus on getting as many vegetables as you possibly can into your daily intake. Eat grains such as oats, rye, barley, and brown rice, which are minimally processed and full of fiber.
Olives and olive oil are a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which is one of the healthiest forms of fat. Use olive oil as a salad dressing and eat olives as snack and you will be sure to reap the benefits of these foods.
Don’t be afraid of other fats such as nuts and seeds. These are rich in fiber and protein, as well as healthy fatty acids. They will help keep you full and are great metabolism boosters as well.
This diet does not include a lot of dairy products. The dairy products that are consumed are yogurts and cheeses. Keep these in low to moderate amounts, no more than 2-3 times per week.
While meat is not consumed often, eggs are. Eggs are tremendously healthy for our health, so don’t be afraid to eat 1-2 eggs a day! They have been seen to not raise cholesterol levels and are beneficial to our brain function and our overall health.
Add fish 1-2x/week such as salmon, tuna, and trout. Fish have high levels of healthy fatty acids and will also provide beneficial protein.
Lastly, practice moderation. When you are having plants, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains most of the time, you can afford to indulge once in a while on a sweet treat or restaurant meal. Balance and moderation are the key to sticking to any healthy lifestyle change, so don’t try to be perfect, just try to eat as many plants and healthy foods as possible!
Overall, the Mediterranean Diet is easy to adapt in the United States. We have access to many of these foods, we just have to limit the heavily processed foods that are encouraged and televised in the United States. My rule of thumb is to stick to foods that don’t even have labels, pick fresh fruits and vegetables and enjoy an abundant amount of foods that are grown from the ground. These foods are the key to developing healthy habits and avoiding the lifestyle-related diseases that many Americans suffer from today.