There are so many studies and health specialists who have supported the Mediterranean diet as one of the healthiest and best ways for eating, that it probably will turn out to be one of the best possible diets yet. It is a fact, that people living in the Mediterranean region, who still eat the traditional Mediterranean foods and live the traditional lifestyle for this beautiful region, are healthier, with a lesser risk of heart disease, and generally live longer than people in the US and Western Europe.
The Mediterranean region in fact consists of 16 countries on three different continents (Europe,AfricaandAsia), with people of different cultures, ethnicity and religion, but with some basic things in common – particularly their main diet.
The basis of the Mediterranean diet is probably the olive oil, because geographically, this is where the olive trees grow. Olive oil is used in the Mediterranean diet, instead of any saturated fat and trans saturated fat such as palm oils, butters, margarines, etc. which are so common for the Western world. Olive oil is an excellent monosaturated fat source, which is the so-called “good fat”.
The other key elements of the Mediterranean diet are the fresh vegetables and fruits, which grow in this largely agricultural region. These take up a large part of the everyday diet of the people of the region, and are a great source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In fact, the true Mediterranean diet involves eating fresh vegetables and fruits 10 times a day.
Beans and legumes as well as nuts are also predominant foods in the region. In fact plant foods are the main part of this diet, as opposed to animal foods.
Other main foods included in the Mediterranean diet include home made wholegrain pasta and bread, usually garnished with olive oil, vegetables, seafood and skinless poultry. Red meat is rarely eaten in the region – the Mediterranean diet includes only one or two servings per week.
The traditional Greek yogurt and local types of cheeses like feta and other cheese and milk from goats and sheep are also a much healthier variant as opposed to the sweetened full fat dairy products so common in the West.
The whole idea behind the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet is that you eat natural, fresh and basic foods, as opposed to the highly processed and fatty foods so popular in the Western world today.
An occasional glass or two of fine red wine, for which the region is famous, is also allowed, especially shared with friends and family. The Mediterranean diet is a part of the very social way of life in the region. It can be enjoyed as much as any other type of diet, and promoted having fun when eating and drinking, and at the same time staying healthy and fit. The good news is, you don’t need to be born or live in the Mediterranean region to start living in accordance to the Mediterranean diet, so you can start today by going to the local market and getting some fresh foods to place on your table.