The Mediterranean diet offers flexibility and ease of use. This makes it extremely popular among nutritionists.
The diet focuses on whole, plant-based foods, healthy fats, and seafood. It is called the Mediterranean diet because of the popularity of these meals in Mediterranean regions like Greece and southern Italy.
Moreover, the Mediterranean diet is not just for a few days. Rather, it is more of a lifestyle change. People following the diet in the long run have shown lower rates of chronic diseases and generally have a longer life expectancy.
Here are some of the benefits you may experience from following the Mediterranean diet in the long run.
The Dos and Don’ts Of Mediterranean Diet
The diet does not focus on depriving the body like some other diet plans out there. Instead, the Mediterranean diet sets out certain guidelines to follow that will help you live your life to the fullest.
The diet suggests adjusting your meals around plant-based foods. Try and avoid processed foods. Particularly those foods that have added sugar.
Amanda Kostro Miller, a registered dietician, these are the recommended and disallowed foods under the Mediterranean diet:
- Whole grains (barley, millet, steel-cut oats, brown rice, amaranth, and rye, etc.)
- Healthy fats (olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado)
Eat/drink in moderation:
- Wine — Women can have one 5-ounce glass a day. Men can have two glasses a day.
- Red meat
7-day Mediterranean Diet Plan
As mentioned, the diet is more of a lifestyle change than a diet plan. Amanda Miller suggests the following eating regime:
Breakfast: Greek yogurt with berries and walnuts
Lunch: Honey garlic salmon baked in foil
Dinner: Vegetable and chickpea stew
Breakfast: Whole-wheat toast with mashed avocado
Lunch: Greek salad topped with salmon or chicken skewers
Dinner: Lemon dill tilapia with sauteed greens
Breakfast: Egg scramble with spinach and tomato
Lunch: one-skillet chicken cooked in olive oil with artichokes, kalamata olives, garlic, and herbs
Dinner: Pasta e Fagioli with a garden salad
Breakfast: Whole-wheat toast with peanut butter
Lunch: Power bowl with quinoa, vegetables, hummus, and feta
Dinner: Garlic lemon herb chicken, roasted vegetables, and potatoes
Breakfast: Greek yogurt with banana and sliced almonds
Lunch: Seafood soup
Dinner: Vegetarian paella
Breakfast: Egg scramble with bell peppers and onion
Lunch: Greek grilled chicken pita with a cucumber-tomato salad
Dinner: Oven-baked tilapia with roasted vegetables
Breakfast: Zucchini tomato frittata
Lunch: Roasted chickpea gyro
Dinner: Polenta topped with roasted eggplant, mushroom, and red pepper ragout
Furthermore, if you are a vegetarian, you can switch out the meat with protein-rich lentils, quinoa, tofu, chickpeas, etc.
Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits
The diet has been ranked the top diet for two years in a row by a number of platforms.
This ranking is largely due to the diet’s health benefits, which include:
Mediterranean diet followers have a smaller waist circumference, according to studies. The individuals have a reduced risk of weight gain, and along with restricted calorie intake can aid in weight loss.
Most of this is due to whole foods that are high in satiating fiber and fat.
Controlled Sugar Levels
The Mediterranean diet is one of the best ways of managing type-2-diabetes. The diet was compared with low-carb, low-glycemic index, and high-protein diets.
The study found that the Mediterranean diet regulates blood sugar, especially for those with type-2-diabetes. A low-carb diet alongside the Mediterranean diet can lead to weight loss.
Improved Heart Health
Many studies suggest that the Mediterranean diet helps improve heart health because of the omega-3-rich seafood, grains, fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, the presence of pulses, and monounsaturated fats from olive oil and nuts helps in maintaining a healthy heart.
A study based on more than 25,000 women following the Mediterranean diet put them at a 25% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease over 12 years.
Another study puts the Mediterranean diet following individuals with high risk of heart disease at a much reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes thanks to the Mediterranean diet.
Reduced Cancer Risk
The diet helps curtail the risk of certain cancers. The higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains helps in controlling cancer-related deaths. Moreover, it can significantly decrease the risk of breast cancer.
Another 2015 study asserts that Mediterranean diet with a side of extra-virgin olive oil gave women a 68% lower risk of breast cancer. This was in contrast with a control group on a low-fat diet.
Reduced Cognitive Decline
Patients following Mediterranean diet have a lesser chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The chances of getting any other forms of cognitive decline are also reduced according to a 2017 study.
Mediterranean diet has shown promise, and the studies have shown better memory performance, better language, and improved visuospatial perception.
Moreover, fish alone can lower the risk of dementia in a person.
Improvements In Gut Health
Increase in dietary fiber and associated vitamins and minerals give rise to ‘good’ bacteria. The year over year increase in good bacteria may be as high as 7%.
The Downsides of Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is not directly linked with many risks. Eating a lot of seafood could raise your mercury consumption so care must be taken. Salmon, shrimp, pollock, and canned light tuna are considered safe, low-mercury options.
Furthermore, people with irritable bowel syndrome or gluten intolerance have to take care of their diet. They should consult a nutritionist before taking any such diet, because diets like these can aggravate their conditions.
Weight loss is all about portion sizes. Take care of your portion size to lose weight effectively and quickly.
The Mediterranean diet is perhaps the most balanced of all diet plans out there. Even vegetarians may find it easy to follow. Moreover, it results into a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and cognitive decline. These conclusions are all supported by studies.
Additionally, the Mediterranean diet can prove extremely helpful for gut health. Hence, it may help with maintaining a healthier weight and body overall.