Understanding The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is known for its emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and seafood. It’s also known for being high in olive oil, red wine, and garlic.
What you might not know is that there’s greater variation within the Mediterranean diet than meets the eye. In fact, some experts say that what we think of as the “Mediterranean diet” isn’t really a single diet at all. Instead, it’s a collection of dietary habits found among people who live in Mediterranean regions.
These habits share similarities with other diets that have been described as “Mediterranean” in the past — but they aren’t exactly the same. This article will explain the difference between various subtypes of the Mediterranean diet as well as provide an overview of what you should know about this eating style if you want to adopt it into your own diet plan.
The Mediterranean diet is typically low in red meat, dairy, and saturated fat. It’s also known for being a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are associated with reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and certain cancers.
While the Mediterranean diet has been studied for decades, many people still don’t really understand what it is or how it can be used as a healthy eating plan, so we’ll try to define it within this article.
The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid
The Mediterranean diet pyramid is a guide to describe what types of foods and quantities of each should be eaten daily. Imagine a pyramid divided into 3 sections, Bottom, Middle, and Top.
The foods at the bottom of the pyramid represent the largest portion of your diet and are considered core components of the Mediterranean diet. The foods at the top of the pyramid are those that are consumed in smaller quantities and are used more as flavoring agents.
BOTTOM – Legumes, vegetables, and fruits are at the bottom of the pyramid and are considered the core of the Mediterranean diet. They should be eaten in large amounts throughout the day.
MIDDLE – Grains and nuts are at the middle level of the pyramid and are healthy additions to the diet, but should be eaten in smaller portions.
TOP – Fish and dairy goods are at the top of the pyramid and should be consumed in the smallest quantities and are often used as flavorings.
Which Foods Are Included in the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is an eating plan that emphasizes plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
It also emphasizes fish, poultry, and other lean proteins, healthy fats like olive oil, and moderate alcohol consumption.
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating foods that are minimally processed and have few or no added ingredients. This means that many of the foods in the Mediterranean diet are unprocessed or naturally processed foods.
- The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating fruits and vegetables every day. In particular, you’ll want to eat lots of greens (like spinach, kale, and lettuce) and dark-coloured fruits and vegetables (like bell peppers, carrots, and sweet potatoes).
- Whole grains like barley, buckwheat, bulgur, farro, quinoa, wheat berries, and whole wheat bread are often recommended as part of the Mediterranean diet.
- Beans and legumes like black beans, chickpeas, fava beans, lentils, and soybeans are also part of Mediterranean diets because they’re high in fiber and protein.
- Nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, and pistachios are seeds like pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds are also recommended for the Mediterranean diet.
What is Not Included in the Mediterranean Diet?
Certain foods are not included in the Mediterranean diet because they are not typical food choices for people from Mediterranean regions. You’ll want to avoid processed and refined foods like white bread, white rice, and refined sugars. Other foods that are not part of the Mediterranean diet include red meat, organ meats, and full-fat dairy products like whole milk and butter.
Determining How Much You Should Eat With the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet does not include specific portion or calorie guidelines for each day. Instead, it encourages you to eat a wide variety of foods from each of the food groups listed above.
The Mediterranean diet pyramid can be used to guide your picture of what a Mediterranean diet meal looks like. What you eat on a daily basis depends on your health and fitness goals and your current diet plan.
For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll want to eat smaller portions of each type of food. If you’re trying to gain weight (such as for athletes or bodybuilders), you’ll want to eat larger portions of each type of food.
Breaking it All Down
- The Mediterranean diet has been shown to be one of the healthiest in the world. It includes lots of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, and fish. Red meat, sweets, and sugary drinks are eaten less often.
- The Mediterranean diet has been linked with lower rates of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other diseases. It may help keep your weight down, too.
- The Mediterranean diet has been around for centuries. People in Mediterranean countries have long enjoyed good health. They eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains.
- The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional way of eating in countries like Greece and Italy. These countries have a lower rate of heart disease and other diseases than the United States.
- The Mediterranean diet is high in fiber and healthy fats. This may be one reason why it’s so healthy. Fiber helps keep us full and healthy fats may help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- The Mediterranean diet also includes plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are thought to help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
- The Mediterranean diet is low in unhealthy fats, salt, and sugar. This may help keep our weight down and reduce the risk of heart disease and other diseases.
Summing it Up
The Mediterranean diet is known as a mostly plant-based eating plan that emphasizes healthy fats like olive oil and moderate alcohol consumption. It also includes lots of seafood and leafy greens.
The Mediterranean diet is not a specific diet plan but rather a collection of dietary habits found among people who live in Mediterranean regions. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains while avoiding red meat and full-fat dairy products. It also includes moderate amounts of fish, poultry, and legumes like beans.
And finally, it encourages moderate alcohol consumption, regular exercise, and getting plenty of sleep. If you’re interested in adopting the Mediterranean diet, it’s important to understand the differences between the various subtypes of this diet and what foods are included in each.