Hubby and I have pretty much always followed the Mediterranean diet since we’ve been in Italy. But lately we’re really stepping it up. The older we get, the easier it is to put on weight. And that’s one thing we don’t need. Plus our cholesterol levels have crept up lately, which is bad for our hearts. So we’ve greatly decreased cheese consumption which I’m sure will do the trick. The cheese here is marvelous and we have a major addiction!
Have you ever thought of adopting the Mediterranean diet?
It’s known as one of the healthiest in the world. And with its base of healthy olive oil, unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables, it’s no wonder! Here in Italy we usually see a high proportion of fresh fruits and vegies in shopping baskets! Yet over time, white-flour bread and pasta took over the diet here, with its decisive health dangers. But as of late healthy whole grains are making a strong comeback. Especially in our home!!
But did you know that the Mediterranean diet is so important that it’s listed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage? This list aims at ensuring better protection of important, but intangible, cultural heritages and promoting awareness of their significance. Those intangible elements that diversify one culture from another: their unique lifestyles, traditions, and creative traditions.
So while it may seem odd to find a diet on this list, I think it’s quite apropos. Because a passion for good food and proper preparation of it is an intrinsic part of the Mediterranean cultures, comprising Greece, southern Italy, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Cyprus, and Croatia.
What does the Mediterranean diet consist of?
- Daily exercise and weight control
- Plenty of fresh water
- Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables — especially non-starch and dark leafy
- Olive oil as the main fat
- Nuts and seeds — often placed on the table along with the fruit.
- Legumes and beans
- Herbs and spices — especially basil, oregano, parsley, and rosemary
- Whole grains
- Fish and seafood —at least twice weekly
- Poultry, eggs, cheese, dairy, and yogurt — in moderation
- Red meat — once per week or on special occasions
- Some coffee or tea
- Red wine — one glass per day
Just as we see in the following food pyramid. Except that modern versions make fruits and vegetables the largest category, with whole grains just above it. And the oils of course should never be consumed in high quantities.
Why is it so healthy?
- It’s filling, but not fattening!
- It’s delicious and varied — which makes it easy to follow and stick to!
- It’s high in fiber.
- It’s chock full of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
- It’s low in processed foods and sugar.
- It’s loaded with anti-inflammatory foods so it helps fight disease.
What health benefits can it bring?
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Possible increased longevity
- Can help fight and treat diabetes.
- Can help fight cancer and other diseases.
- Can help in weight loss and maintenance of a healthy weight.
- It protects cognitive health and can improve mood.
- The leisurely pace involved in this overall lifestyle can also help combat stress and aid relaxation!
Give The Mediterranean Diet a try! More than a diet or a diet plan, it’s a food lifestyle. One that is simple, healthy, and tasty!