By Jessica Marsh
Studies have shown that people who reside within the Mediterranean region live longer and healthier lives than their American counterparts. It has long been thought that this could be a result of their diet.
A traditional Mediterranean diet contains many fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and oils, beans and fish. People in the Mediterranean also tend to eat less poultry and dairy. Wine is allowed and sweet treats are an occasional indulgence.
When a Mediterranean diet is followed, one may expect to lose weight, increase cardiovascular health, boost brain power and reduce the risk of certain cancers, diabetes and a variety of other health ailments.
If you approach a Mediterranean diet in an effort to lose weight, you will need to pay attention to the amount of food and calories you consume, as the diet is not a free-for-all and contains plenty of fats — even if they are healthy ones.
Exercise should be incorporated into any weight loss efforts to burn off the calories from food, and create the proper caloric deficit.
A Mediterranean diet is very low in saturated fat and instead focuses on healthy fats like olives and olive oil, which have been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering the levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol in the body, and increase the levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
There are no food groups completely banned in a Mediterranean diet, so following it over the long term should be easy to do if you accept the guidelines and appreciate sticking with them. This diet can get a little pricey however, if you are a fan of the highest quality olive oils and red wines. But with a bit of planning, it’s easy to find quality products in a lower price range.
This eating plan is within the government suggested food intakes for fat, carbohydrates and protein, and places a lot of an emphasis on getting key nutrients through the diet as opposed to getting them through supplements. These nutrients include fiber, potassium, calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B-12. It should not be difficult to remain feeling satiated on the Mediterranean diet since it is high in fiber, protein and healthy fats. There are plenty of cook books aligned with these eating principles, and eating out should not be too complicated either, as long as rational portion control is adhered to.
There are no health risks associated with the Mediterranean diet, although you should always check with your doctor before making any diet or lifestyle changes.