The Mediterranean Diet is far from a typical diet. It’s a pattern of eating adopted from European countries. The focus of the diet is to exchange bad fats for heart-healthy ones. Instead of reaching for the butter, grab the extra virgin olive oil. Skip the red meat (maybe once per week) and emphasize wild-caught fish with lots of vegetables and some fruit. And while many Europeans may love their wine, remember moderation is key.
Why the Mediterranean Diet?
In the 1960s it was discovered that few heart-related deaths occurred in countries such as Spain, Greece, and Italy. Upon further investigation, it was determined that the Mediterranean diet was the leading factor for their low risk of heart-related deaths. Numerous studies since then have shown that the Mediterranean diet can be helpful in weight loss, prevention of heart attacks, strokes, and type 2 diabetes.
What does the Mediterranean Diet Focus on?
The Mediterranean diet consists of mainly eating fresh fruits and vegetables, unsaturated fats, oily fish, and low consumption of meat and added sugar.
Foods to Eat
- Vegetables: Tomatoes, Peppers, Onions, Eggplant, Zucchini, Cucumber, Leafy green Vegetables, brussels, broccoli, kale, spinach, cauliflower
- Fruits: Organic Berries, Apples, Apricots, Peaches, Oranges, Lemons, Figs, Date
- Legumes: Almonds, Walnuts, Sunflower Seeds (good source of selenium), Macadamia nuts
- Unsaturated Fat: Extra Virgin Olive oil, olives, avocados, extra virgin coconut oil
- Meats: Moderate amounts of wild game, wild-caught fish, sardines, duck, turkey some grass-fed and grass-finished beef,.
- Fish and Seafood: Wild-caught salmon, sardines, trout, limited tuna, mackerel, oysters, clam, crab, mussels (always be aware of sources)
- Tubers: Turnips, yams, sweet potatoes
- Grains: whole-grain pita bread but maybe NOT in America. Most wheat in America is highly processed with high heat, is GMO and often contains toxins and molds.
- Dairy Products: Grass-Fed Cheeses and real yogurt (no added sugar), Kefir, raw milk if you can get it.
Foods to Avoid
- Sugars including synthetics, added Sugar e.g.: Ice Cream, table sugar, soda, candy, “fat-free candies” (ironic but sad).
- Refined Processed Grains: white and so-called whole wheat bread, pasta made with refined wheat (if you travel to Europe you can generally eat the pizzas and bread – processed differently).
- Trans Fats: margarine, processed foods
- Refined Oils: Canola oil, soybean oil (see Vegetable Oil article)
- Processed meat: Sausages, hot dogs, lunch meats…
- Highly Processed Foods: Anything labeled “low-fat” or “diet” or has several ingredients you do not recognize.
How to do the Mediterranean Diet
The foundation of the Mediterranean diet is plant-based. Only moderate amounts of dairy, poultry, and eggs should be consumed. It is recommended to consume fatty oil fish at least twice a week. Limit the amount of sugar in-take to only a few pieces of fruit per week. Avoid any artificial sweeteners. Coffee and tea are acceptable but skip sugars and creamers. The diet also allows you to enjoy wine- around 1 glass per day.
Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet has been linked to being one of the most heart-healthy diets out there. It helps the body maintain healthy cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Its also been shown to help increase longevity when practiced long term.
In addition, studies have shown that diet may offer possible protection from various cancers.
It has also been suggested the diet may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and improve markers in people who have already developed type 2 diabetes.
Sample of Typical Mediterranean Diet:
- Breakfast: Eggs and vegetables cooked in extra virgin olive oil
- Lunch: Small Greek Salad, olives, feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, onion
- Dinner: Broiled Salmon, served with brown rice and vegetables
The Bottom Line:
Focus on a diet rich in veggies and healthy fats. Strive to get fatty, oily, fish in your diet a couple of times a week. Avoid sugars or any processed foods, refined carbohydrates. Moderate protein, moderate exercise, intermittent fasting, hormone balancing and addressing genetic weaknesses.
The Mediterranean Diet is not the only one as everyone is unique, however, it has been scientifically validated for both health and sustainability. The short terms are good but the key is long term.
If you have questions about your personal weight loss struggles or just want to maintain your current body weight (% body fat), contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.