The Mediterranean diet is a great diet that can protect you from heart disease, diabetes, and obesity (1). This diet promotes eating more veggies, fruits, whole grains, pulses, and olive oil (healthy fat), some fish, and less meat. Research shows that the Mediterranean diet is rich in antioxidants and flavonoids, which are associated with longevity (2).
Alexandre Meybeck, the coordinator of Sustainable Food Systems Program, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said, “The Mediterranean diet is nutritious, integrated in local cultures, environmentally sustainable and it supports local economies. (3)” So, let me tell you how you can follow the Mediterranean diet. Let’s get rolling.
Our lifestyles have played a major role in the rise of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and other lifestyle-related diseases. The Mediterranean diet is followed mostly in southern Italy, Spain, Greece, Ikaria, Sardinia, France, Portugal, and Croatia and it has been found that obesity andrelated diseases are less predominant in these places. Researchers have found that the Mediterranean diet can promote long-term weight loss, help regulate blood pressure, and reduce blood lipid levels (4).
This mediterranean diet encourages you to eat more natural and wholesome foods. Fruits, veggies, and whole grains are great sources of dietary fiber and help improve digestion and bowel movement, lower LDL cholesterol, and regulate blood glucose levels. You will eat lean protein and minimum amount of red meat, which makes this diet extremely heart-friendly. Yogurt and cheese are great sources of calcium, good gut bacteria, and protein. Legumes are rich in protein and dietary fiber. Nuts are loaded with protein and healthy fats that prevent inflammation-induced weight gain.
You will need to eliminate all kinds of processed and artificial foods that are high in sodium, sugar, and trans fats. And most importantly, this diet emphasizes the importance of having lunch or dinner with family or friends, as they do in Mediterranean culture, which helps reduce stress and depression. Here’s the image of the Mediterranean diet pyramid that shows what and how much you are supposed to eat.
So, this is how the Mediterranean diet works. And now, let me tell you about a few basic guidelines before you start this diet.
To get a better picture of what your diet should look like, I have prepared a sample Mediterranean menu. Check it out.
|Meals||What To Eat|
|Early Morning (6:00 – 7:30 am)||1 teaspoon fenugreek soaked (overnight) in 2 cups of water|
|Breakfast (6:45 – 8:15 am)||Options:|
Kale and celery smoothie + 1 boiled egg+4 almonds
Vegetable quinoa + ½ grapefruit + 4 almonds
|Mid-Morning (9:30 – 10:45 am)||Options:|
1 bowl fruit salad/ freshly pressed fruit juice
1 cup fresh coconut water
|Lunch (12:30 – 1:30 pm)||Options:|
Tuna salad/tofu salad with light dressing + 1 cup buttermilk
Grilled fish with blanched veggies and a small cup hummus + 1 cup buttermilk
|Evening Snack (3:30 – 4:30 pm)||1 cup green tea + 1 small cup cucumber (spice up with lime juice and herbs)|
|Dinner (7:00 – 7:30 pm)|| Options:|
Kidney bean with brown rice with a side of veggies + 1 small cup yogurt
Mushroom stuffed capsicum with whole wheat pita bread + 1 small cup yogurt
Remember, this diet plan is not carved on a rock. You can substitute the foods listed in this chart with other foods. But make sure you stick to the guidelines of this diet plan. But if you want to know exactly which foods you must eat and avoid, take a look at the Mediterranean diet foods list below.
Veggies – Tomato,broccoli, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, spinach, swiss chard,asparagus, zucchini, bell pepper, bok choy, green chili, pumpkin, bottle gourd, snake gourd, bitter gourd, okra, eggplant, radish, turnip, beetroot, carrot, sweet potato, potato with peel, radish greens, rocket spinach, collard greens, and green beans.
Fruits – Papaya,apple, grapes, grapefruit, lime, lemon, orange, plum, pear, peach, pluot, figs, blueberry, strawberry, starfruit, green apple, watermelon, and muskmelon.
Fats & Oils – Olive oil, rice bran oil, and ghee (clarified butter).
Seeds & Nuts – Macadamia nuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and hazelnuts.
Beverages – Coconut water, freshly pressed fruit juice and vegetable juice, buttermilk, green tea, herbal tea, and black coffee.
Herbs & Spices – Cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, nutmeg, black pepper, star anise, cayenne pepper, cumin powder, coriander powder, cilantro, oregano, dill, fenugreek seeds, rosemary, thyme, clove, saffron, fennel seeds, and fenugreek seeds.
Veggies – Potato without the peel.
Fruits – Mango and jackfruit.
Fats & Oils – Animal fat, butter, mayonnaise, ranch, canola oil, and vegetable oil.
Seeds & Nuts – Cashew nuts.
Junk Food – Deep fried chicken, wafers, crisps, doughnut, nachos, salami, sausage, pepperoni, fries, pizza, burger, etc.
Beverages – Aerated drinks, artificially sweetened drinks, packaged fruit juices, and alcohol.
When it comes to being healthy, nutrition plays an important role, and so does exercising. You need to exercise regularly to keep your muscles and cells active, strengthen your body, keep your metabolism going, build resistance to diseases, and to become fit. Here’s a sample workout plan.
Feels good, doesn’t it? Initially, if you are not used to working out regularly, you may feel a little discomfort, but that will soon go away. You must take one day off from working out as your body needs rest as much as it needs to exercise.
Well, now get down to some real business – food! In the next section, find out how to prepare yummy and quick Mediterranean diet recipes at home.
Prep Time: 20 min Cooking Time: 20 min Total time: 40 min Serves – 6
Prep Time: 15 min Cooking Time: 40 min Total time: 55 min Serves – 2
Prep Time:15 min Cooking Time:45 min Total time:60 min Serves – 6
So, weren’t these pretty easy to make and super nutritious and delicious? Read on to find out some more reasons why we recommend you to follow the Mediterranean diet.
Though there are no serious side effects of this diet, but if you are not used to eating much plant-based food, you might find this diet a bit challenging initially.However, once you get used to it, it will become a part of your lifestyle and it will not bother you anymore.
Let’s take a look at these frequently asked questions.
Can I eat peanut butter while on the Mediterranean diet?
If the peanut butter is 100% organic, you can consume it. However, mostly the peanut butter that is sold in supermarkets contains preservatives, which is a no-no in the Mediterranean diet. Yes, peanut butter is definitely a better option compared to butter, but make sure it does not contain any artificial flavoring, coloring, and preserving agents.
Isthe Mediterranean Diet similar to the Paleo diet?
No, Paleo diet excludes grains such as brown rice, quinoa, wheat, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, etc. That’s because Paleo diet is a diet that humans of Paleolithic age followed and cooking grains was not a practice at that time. Also, in the Mediterranean diet, you are required to consume legumes and grains.
Is the Mediterranean diet similar to the Ketogenic diet
No, ketogenic diet requires you to eat a lot of fat, moderate protein, and very less amount of carbs. In the Mediterranean diet, yes, you will consume a lot of olive oil, but you will also consume a lot of veggies and fruits that contain complex carbs or good carbs and a moderate amount of proteins.
To conclude, the Mediterranean diet is certainly the best diet to follow if you want to improve your health and lead a disease-free life. This diet is not a fad diet, and you have the freedom to eat anything as long as it is nutritious and unprocessed. So, consult your dietician today and try the Mediterranean diet to see yourself transform! Take care.