What the Heck is the Mediterranean Diet?

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Every one of us wants to know the secret to a healthy body. I get so many emails asking about diet…”Henry, what should I do to lose weight?” “Henry, what can I eat to be healthier?” Well, I have the answer!

Doctors, health practitioners, nutritionists, and even scientists now agree that the best diet we can eat is the Mediterranean diet. Now, there is not one precise version of this diet out there, but rather different variations on the theme. Basically, they all revolve around a few key principles, which I will discuss here. First, though, let me show you all the shocking benefits you’ll reap from just changing up your diet a bit.

Research shows that a traditional Mediterranean diet will reduce the risk of heart disease. In a recent study that looked at over 1.5 million healthy adults, the Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of overall and cardiovascular mortality, a reduced cancer risk and cancer mortality, and reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases1.

That’s not all folks! The Mediterranean diet is also been associated with lower levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol (the LDL stuff). That is the stuff that is more likely to build up deposits in our arteries. AND studies of the Mediterranean diet show that it also reduces the risk of death in people who have already suffered a heart attack. AND it also curbs the risk of stroke and boosts survival in people living with heart disease2.

So now you see why most (if not all) major scientific organizations suggest that healthy adults follow this style of eating to prevent major chronic diseases1.

I know, I know, get to the food! Okay so what are the key components? The Mediterranean diet focuses on a high consumption of olive oil, plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole-grain cereals, pasta, rice, nuts and seeds. Most of your meals will be based on fish rather than other meat sources, with red meat consumed rarely (about once a month if desired). The Mediterranean diet does recommend some red wine, but only in moderation. Again this is optional. Sweets are eaten not at all, or rarely2.

One part of the Mediterranean diet is nuts, which are also high in fat-but it’s the good kind of fat. Still, since nuts are high in calories, they should be eaten only in small amounts (and none of those candied or honey roasted nuts, either!).
You do eat a lot of grains on this diet, but they are whole grains and usually contain very few unhealthy trans fats. Bread is an important part of the diet, and those living in the Mediterranean region just eat their bread plain or dipped in olive oil (No butter or margarine!)1.

So, if you are looking for a new eating plan-one you can stick with, not a diet, this could be the one for you. Most people will just have to tweak their current meals a bit to incorporate these ideas. Do it slowly and soon you’ll see how easy it is to be healthy! And that’s a fact, pack!

Sources
1) Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). “Mediterranean diet: Choose this heart-healthy diet option”. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mediterranean-diet/CL00011
2) “Mediterranean diet good for the heart”. American Journal of Epidemiology, December 15, 2009. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60Q6F120100127

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