You may have heard of the Mediterranean Diet but assumed it’s just another passing weight-loss fad. In truth, the Mediterranean Diet is actually a modern take on the traditional foods that have been enjoyed by cultures along the Mediterranean Sea for centuries. The Mediterranean Diet includes food from Greece, Spain, Italy, France, and Portugal as well as Middle Eastern and North African countries.
Why Follow the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean Diet was first introduced by researchers at the University of Barcelona. The researchers put a number of Spanish participants who were obese, overweight, and at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease on the diet. By the end of the long-term study, the participants were found to have a significantly lower risk of incurring serious medical conditions.
Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is beneficial because it is not restrictive. The plan includes enjoying a wide variety of colorful and wholesome foods across all food categories. Largely plant-based, the Mediterranean Diet also includes grains, dairy, and lean proteins. Red meat is enjoyed once or twice a month; seafood and chicken two or more times a week. Using plant-based proteins and healthy fats from vegetables, such as olive oil, is strongly encouraged.
The Mediterranean Diet helps promote overall heart health and can lower high cholesterol levels as well as help with weight loss. Unlike other diet plans, the Mediterranean Diet is meant to be sustainable rather than short term. You have no risk of nutritional deficiencies, because you eat from all food groups. While it can be difficult to socialize while on many diet plans, part of the Mediterranean Diet is to focus on lifestyle. Dining with family and friends, enjoying red wine in moderation, and getting plenty of exercise are all part of the focus of the diet.
Problems with the Mediterranean Diet
From a health perspective, there isn’t much wrong with the Mediterranean Diet. The diet may be difficult for those who have certain food intolerances, although it is very adaptable and can still be followed by those with lactose or gluten intolerances.
Where to Find Recipes and Ideas That Fit the Mediterranean Diet
May is International Mediterranean Diet Month, a 2009 initiative sponsored by Oldways, “inspiring good health through cultural food traditions.” At the official International Mediterranean Diet Month website, you can find information about the cultures and traditions that have inspired the Mediterranean Diet as well as recipes that blend traditional flavors with modern tastes. The site offers an array of soups, salads, sides, appetizers, main dishes, and even bread and desserts, that follow the traditions of the Mediterranean Diet.