What is the Mediterranean Diet and Why is it Considered a Healthier Way of Eating?

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The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that is based on the traditional foods consumed by people living in the Mediterranean region, including countries like Greece, Italy, and Spain. This diet has been gaining popularity in recent years due to its numerous health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes.

The Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, as well as olive oil as the primary source of fat. It also includes moderate amounts of fish and poultry, and low amounts of dairy products, red meat, and saturated fats.

top view photography of fruits in plate

Included Foods:

  • Fruits and vegetables: Tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, eggplant, artichokes, lemons, oranges, figs, etc.
  • Whole grains: Whole grain bread, pasta, bulgur, and brown rice.
  • Legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, and beans.
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Olive oil: Used as the primary source of fat in cooking and dressings.
  • Fish and poultry: Salmon, sardines, cod, chicken, and turkey.
  • Dairy: Cheese and yogurt consumed in moderation.

Excluded Foods:

  • Red meat: Limited to a few times per month.
  • Saturated fats: Butter, lard, and fatty meat cuts.
  • Processed foods: Chips, cookies, and other snacks high in sugar and unhealthy fats.
  • Added sugars: Soft drinks, candy, and other sweetened beverages.

Why it is healthier than a typical Western diet: The Mediterranean diet is considered healthier than a typical Western diet due to its overall nutrient profile and the way that different foods are combined. It is higher in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and lower in unhealthy fats, added sugars, and processed foods. The emphasis on plant-based foods provides a wealth of nutrients and helps to limit intake of unhealthy ingredients. Additionally, the use of olive oil as the primary source of fat, rather than seed oils high in omega-6 fatty acids, is also beneficial for health.

What is so unhealthy about a standard Western diet: A typical Western diet is often high in unhealthy fats, added sugars, and processed foods, and low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This type of diet is linked to numerous health problems, including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. It is also often high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can contribute to inflammation in the body.

In conclusion the Mediterranean diet is a nutritious and delicious way of eating that has been shown to have numerous health benefits. By incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, as well as using olive oil as the primary source of fat, you can adopt a healthier way of eating and reduce your risk of chronic disease. By cutting out processed foods, added sugars, and saturated fats, you can enjoy a diet that is both delicious and good for your health. Although the diet is low in healthy vitamin rich red meat and butter, it is still a lot healthier than the standard western diet and can be a good starting point for a lifestyle change. Ultimatly it is important to find out your own way of eating and whats good for your body, at the end this can be a mix of mediterranean, carnivore, keto, paleo and animal based. Most importantly for your health avoid seed oils, processed sugar, fast food and other highly processed foods found in the supermarkets and try to get the best quality of food possible.

Sources on the Mediterranean Diet and its possible benefits:

  1. “Mediterranean diet” – Mayo Clinic (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801)
  2. “Mediterranean diet and health” – Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/mediterranean-diet/)
  3. “Mediterranean diet and health: A review of the evidence” – The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (https://www.nature.com/articles/ejcn201033)
  4. “Mediterranean Diet and Cardiovascular Health: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association” – Circulation (https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000478)

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