Mediterranean Diet Staples

The Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet: Fad or Fact?

By | February 7, 2018 | nutrition

Some diet fads come and go, and others stick around. One, in particular, that is more than just a trend is the Mediterranean diet. This is a diet that has been enjoyed by the people of Spain, Italy, and Greece for hundreds of years. It has also inspired many others to adopt it due to its purported health and wellness benefits.

Recently though some have begun to question whether its benefits for heart health are as substantial as they are made to seem. So what is the Mediterranean diet, who benefits most from it, and is it worth switching to yourself?

What foods are in the Mediterranean diet?

Depending on how well you currently eat, you may already be eating some of the foods that are considered to be staples of this diet. Tomatoes, eggs, olive oil, and avocados, are some of the basic things that make up what we consider to be the Mediterranean diet.

One thing though, that is somewhat limited in this diet is red meat. Red meat is something that Americans typically consume a lot of. Even more so, red meats are typically the main dish of any meal, with veggies being downgraded to complimentary sides. One thing the Mediterranean diet does well is puts vegetables back in the spotlight. 

These foods are the essential staples of the Mediterranean diet:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Chickpeas
  • Legumes
  • Whole Grains
  • Fish
  • Olive oil
  • Seafood

What are the benefits?

One of the best things about this diet is that you’ll be eating healthier, without even realizing it. I mean who wouldn’t switch to a diet that includes a daily glass of red wine? There are many health benefits associated with it as well. Some of them include improved heart health, decreased risk of diabetes, longer lifespan, and lessened symptoms of depression. This is due to decreasing the number of sugars, red meat, and processed foods that are consumed, and replacing them with fresh delicious alternatives. So let’s dive into what you can gain by switching, or even what you can lose.

Heart Health

Thanks to consuming lesser sugars, processed foods, and red meats, those who follow the Mediterranean diet have less risk for stroke and other heart diseases. The foods in this diet work towards more balanced cholesterol and protect the heart and arteries.

Longevity

Many foods included in the Mediterranean diet have anti-inflammatory properties as well as antioxidant properties. This combined with a decrease in unhealthy habits, like drinking sugary drinks and consuming a lot of dairy, leads to a longer life. This is because these bad habits contribute to stress on your body, which shortens lifespan and increases signs of age. Antioxidants help to protect your body from stress as well.

Diabetes

If you’re trying to avoid the onset of type 2 diabetes then this diet can help you do that, deliciously.

Depression

It’s no secret that a healthier diet leads to improvements in mood. Eliminating processed foods and increasing nutrients like Omega 3’s and Iron help you to feel happier and more optimistic. Check out our full blog post on the topic to learn more!

Heart-Healthy Recipe

Pan seared salmon is a great simple way to start adopting the Mediterranean diet into your everyday life. It contains few ingredients and doesn’t take long to prepare. Check out this easy recipe on Allrecipes! Here’s what you’ll need.

  • 4 (6 ounce) fillets salmon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 25.5 oz
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 slices lemon

Another quick and easy dish is a simple greek salad, one that is actually served all over the country of Greece, and contains many healthy veggies. Follow the link for the full recipe and here’s what you’ll need.

  • 1 English cucumber
  • Diced 2 large tomatoes, each cut into 8 wedges
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup whole, pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 25.5 oz
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Should you try it?

Due to the ease at which one can incorporate this diet into their everyday lives, it is certainly a great way to try and improve your eating habits. It requires cutting very little out of your diet and still allows you to indulge everyone in a while. Plus, the meal options are nearly endless. There is a vast array of cookbooks and online recipes that can help you make the best out of this diet.

So, in honor of heart health awareness month, start making positive changes to your life and switch over to the Mediterranean diet. 


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