Posted by: kathryngraves | May 31, 2017

3 Things You Didn’t Know About the Mediterranean Diet and Why You Should Try It

We’ve all heard the praises of the Mediterranean Diet. It seems to prevent whatever ailments might possibly befall us. While we are bombarded by hyperbole on the subject, details are sometimes scarce. One might think, given the hype, that we’d all understand exactly what it involves and the particulars of health issues it can address. But even I, nutrition geek that I am, did not fully understand them. So I conducted a bit of research and will lay out the basics here.

Why Eat the Mediterranean Diet?

It does seem this way of eating has a positive effect on many health issues. One of the most compelling is that it is a good weight loss plan without making you feel like you’re starving or being deprived. But it also helps regulate blood sugar. The caveat is to lower consumption of grains. (I’ll speak more to this point later.)

The Mediterranean Diet also works to prevent several scary health problems. It reduces the risk of depression, heart attack, stroke, and Alzheimer’s. That’s enough to cause almost anyone to make a lifestyle change and adopt the diet.

Basic Elements of the Mediterranean Diet

The diet is based on several foods:

  • Fish and seafood
  • Olive Oil and Olives
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Moderate amounts of Tree Nuts
  • Properly soaked Beans (soaked at least 7 hours and then cooked at least 7 hours or else pressure cooked)
  • Roasted and Skinned Tomatoes and Peppers
  • Tuberous Veggies
  • Greens and Herbs
  • Some Seasonal Fresh Fruit
  • Whole fat Yogurt and Cheese

Did you notice a conspicuous absence? Pasta is not a basic staple. Whole grains in moderation are part of the diet, but not a basic foundation. This is why it helps control blood sugar. Fetuccine Alfredo and breadsticks are not daily treats in the real Mediterranean world.

Common Myths Busted

Pasta and grains are not key. Olive oil is the key.

Fruits and Vegetables are not staples. Vegetables are staples, but fruits are not. Only a small amount of seasonal, fresh fruit is eaten. This is another reason the diet is good for blood sugar control.

Whole tomatoes are not beneficial. The skins are difficult to digest and should be removed. Roasting is a good way to accomplish this. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and roast in the oven. The skins will slip right off. Peppers also benefit from roasting and peeling as their skins and seeds contain the same anti-nutrients.

How to Eat the Mediterranean Diet

  1. Use olive oil instead of other oils or butter or margarine. Remember, olive oil is the key to the whole diet. Liberal amounts of olive oil will not cause weight gain.
  2. Reduce red meat consumption and aim for fish twice a week, more chicken, and some days when beans and nuts are the stars.
  3. Eat vegetables all day long. Add them to breakfast omelets, make salads a daily item, and serve a couple as sides or even the main dish at supper.
  4. Consume only small amounts of bread and grains, and make sure these are whole grain.
  5. Choose whole fat, plain Greek yogurt and add fresh fruit and a bit of honey. The protein content is much higher in Greek yogurt and the sugar content of whole fat dairy is much lower than in reduced- or no-fat dairy. Also choose hard cheeses. Parmesan and Romano are much higher in protein than other cheeses.
  6. Snack on nuts or seeds and olives and cheese.
  7. Make fruit your dessert.
  8. Take time to savor every bite.

Now you have the information necessary for making a lifestyle change. That’s really what this is. It is not a diet. It is a way of life. There is no going back to the way things were. The old ways were unhealthy and unproductive. Embrace the beautiful change.

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Photo: Pixabay

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