The Mediterranean diet consists of fresh fruits, green vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, nuts, and olive oil along with a moderate amount of dairy, red meat, and poultry.
It discourages sugars and processed foods. It has been shown to offer a variety of benefits, such as supporting brain function, promoting heart health, regulating blood sugar levels, and so on.
What is a Mediterranean Diet?
A traditional Mediterranean diet includes the following:
- vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
- nuts, seeds, and olive oil
- moderate amounts of dairy and fish
- small amounts of red meat
- fewer eggs
- moderate quantity of red wine
This diet avoids and discourages refined grains, highly processed foods, and products with added sugars.
Health Benefits of Mediterranean Diet
This diet provides bioactive plant compounds from plants and vegetables, known as polyphenols and plant fiber. Polyphenols are strong antioxidants that protect the body against free radicals, which cause oxidative stress and are also responsible for cell damage.
Dietary fibers improve gut health and promote good digestion. Polyphenols in Mediterranean diet may also regulate gut bacteria, which are essential for digestion. Fibers prevent flatulence and constipation.
Mediterranean diet can be beneficial for brain health and may protect against cognitive decline in aged individuals. This diet has been associated with improved memory functions and reductions in risk factors for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Multiple studies have found that this diet can reduce blood glucose level and improve levels of HbA1C, a biomarker used to measure long-term levels of blood glucose.
This diet can help prevent heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and premature death. The Mediterranean diet is often recommended to protect against chronic diseases. Flavonoids present in green vegetables and fruits also help reduce weight.
A Seven-Day Meal Plan
A seven-day Mediterranean diet can look as follows:
Comparison with Other Diets
Other diets like the keto diet or the paleo diet are often too restrictive and cannot be followed by many. Restrictive diets generally exclude certain food groups and are often very expensive.
However, the Mediterranean diet includes commonly available whole foods, and it can be followed easily without much effort.
The food items are easy to source and cook. This diet does not specify any cooking method. There are plenty of healthy snack options in this diet. Nuts, seeds, fruits, and dry fruits can be easily incorporated into this diet.
The Mediterranean diet consists of whole foods. It's known to offer a variety of health benefits. It's versatile, easy to adopt, and ideal for beginners. The Mediterranean diet has no strict rules and can be followed by anyone.
As this diet is not restrictive, one can find substitutes for almost all major food items and make their own interesting recipes.
One can slowly incorporate these items and remove the processed foods present from their diet. It should be kept in mind that a healthy diet with an active lifestyle and regular exercise is the key to fitness.