What is the "Mediterranean" diet?
Mediterranean diet is a diverse term used among many diets across the Mediterranean area. This Mediterranean diet is intertwined with differences in culture, ethnic background, religion, economy and agricultural production around 16 countries in the Mediterranean area. However, those diets have some common features reflecting its uniqueness on the balanced nutritional composition and its unique ingredients.
Most of these diets are consist of crisp, leafy greens, deep purple grapes, ruby-red salmon carrots, and nutty, crunchy farro, Greek yoghurt topped with figs, dates, and a drizzle of honey. The Mediterranean diet combines the fundamentals of healthy eating plus a splash of tasty olive oil and feasibly a glass of red wine. Additionally, it will limit unhealthy fats that are ideal for the heart-healthy eating plan. The Mediterranean diet discourages saturated fats and hydrogenated oils.
Many Mediterranean diets are composed of the following ingredients.
- High consumption of fruits, vegetables, bread and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds.
- Olive oil is an important monounsaturated fat source.
- Dairy products, fish and poultry are consumed in low to moderate amounts, and little red meat is eaten.
- Eggs are consumed zero to four times a week.
- Wine is consumed in low to moderate amounts.
Benefits of the Mediterranean diet
- Reduces the risk of heart disease and reduce hypertension.
- Lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol as known as the bad cholesterol.
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality as well as overall mortality.
- Reduced occurrence of cancers. (Women who consume diets with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts have a reduced risk of breast cancer compared to other meals)
- Reduced occurrence of Parkinson’s disease.
- Reduced occurrence of Alzheimer's diseases.
Key components of the Mediterranean diet
The main feature of the Mediterranean diet is that it can be enjoyed with family and friends with its diversity. If you are a fan of the Mediterranean diet you can introduce it to your family and friends during a party. The Mediterranean diet highlights consuming mainly plant-based foods, substituting butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil, using herbs and spices instead of salt to increase the flavour of foods, limiting red meat only for special occasions, eating fish more often especially salmon.
Most likeable character in the Mediterranean diet is red wine, however, only a moderate amount is recommended. It is important to keep in mind that water should be your main beverage on a Mediterranean diet. Olive oil is the primary healthy fat of the Mediterranean diet and is used for cooking, baking, sauces, vinaigrettes, and more.
How to get started
The Mediterranean diet is a wonderful and healthy way to eat. So this is a great opportunity to people who are fed up of trying vegan and vegetarian diet plans due to its bad taste. These are some foods to eat and foods to avoid in the Mediterranean diet.
Foods to Eat
- Vegetables: Tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers and garlic. These plant-based foods are colourful, nutritious, and extremely versatile. Whether raw, grilled, steamed, sautéed, roasted, or pickled, vegetables should be on your plate during every meal. They’re easy to spread over pizza, mix into scrambled eggs, or toss into salads.
- Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches, Olives.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds.
- Greek yoghurt.
- Legumes: Beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas.
- Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, yams.
- Whole grains: Whole oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat, whole-grain bread and pasta. Whole, healthy grains are full of fibre, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Fish and seafood: Salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, arctic char, mackerel, anchovies, and oyster, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels (especially varieties packing omega-3 fatty acids)
- Poultry: Chicken, duck, turkey
- Eggs: Chicken, quail and duck eggs.
- Herbs and spices: Garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, turmeric.
- Healthy Fats: Extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados and avocado oil.
Foods to avoid
- Added sugar: Soda, candies, ice cream, table sugar and many others.
- Refined grains: White bread, pasta made with refined wheat.
- Tran’s fats: Found in margarine and various processed foods.
- Refined oils: Soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil and others.
- Processed meat: Processed sausages, hot dogs.
- Highly processed foods: Anything labelled "low-fat" or "diet" or which looks like it was made in a factory.
Though there is not one defined Mediterranean diet, this way of eating is generally rich in healthy plant foods and relatively lower in animal foods, with a focus on fish and seafood. At the end of the day, the Mediterranean diet is incredibly healthy and satisfying. You won't be disappointed.
Following are some famous Mediterranean diets according to the country.
The main meal. A typical Italian lunch has an antipasto, a primo (soup, rice, or pasta), a secondo (meat or fish), contorni (vegetables), and a dolce (sweet) all small portions, of course.
Light meal - A typical dinner might include soup, cold cuts, or a small plate of pasta, served with vegetables and a small piece of cheese.
The main meal consists of multiple courses and wine. Vegetable, bean, or seafood soup (often rice, potato, or pasta-based). Fresh fish or seafood, roast chicken or lamb, fried potatoes, or rabbit stew Green salad or vegetables. Flan, a light pastry, fresh fruit, or ice cream. Coffee and liqueur or wine.
The late-afternoon snack in Spain is called la merienda. Snack time can be anything from a piece of French-style bread with a piece of chocolate on top or bread with chorizo sausage, ham, or salami.
In main meal, there might be a pot of soup, a village salad, or horiatiki, a platter of olives and feta cheese, bread, slow roasted vegetables, meat, such as lamb or goat, seafood dishes, fried potatoes, and more. There is always plenty of olive oil to season the food. And it is famous that Greek meal is shared with friends and family members to gather on a regular basis.
A typical lunch meal begins with a series of hot and cold salads, followed by a tagine or Dwaz. Often, for a formal meal, a lamb or chicken dish is next, or couscous topped with meat and vegetables.
Lebanese cuisine is a Levantine style of cooking that includes an abundance of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, starches, fresh fish and seafood. Poultry is eaten more often than red meat, and when red meat is eaten. It also includes copious amounts of garlic and olive oil, often seasoned by lemon juice.
North African meal
Cuisine. In Maghrebi cuisine, the most common staple foods are wheat (for khobz bread and couscous), fish, seafood, goat, lamb, beef, dates, almonds, olives and various vegetables and fruits. Because the region is predominantly Muslim, halal meats are usually eaten.