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Mediterranean Diet Review

 

Written by Jolyne Babineau

Jolyne has a Master's degree in clinical nutrition. She has a true passion for the field and enjoys doing research on any topics related to dietetics.


The Mediterranean Diet is based on the traditional dietary patterns of people living in the Mediterranean regions, such as Greece and Italy. It has been documented that people who live in those regions have a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer and live longer than people living in other parts of the world.

Although diets vary between the different countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, there are similar dietary patterns.

 

The key components of the Mediterranean diet are:

  • High consumption of food from plant sources such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.

  • Primary source of fat is Olive oil instead of butter and other undesirable fats.

  • Dairy products, fish and poultry are consumed in low to moderates amounts.

  • Red meat is only eaten a few times per month.

  • Whole eggs are consumed less than four times per week.

  • Wine is consumed in low to moderate amounts

 

 

 

This traditional diet is very high in fibre and antioxidants due to the large consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grain products. Although itís a diet that is high in fats, it is low in saturated fats due to a low consumption of processed foods, high fat milk products and meats.

When looking at this diet as a whole, it follows most of the dietary guidelines of The North American Food Guides. However, there are some things to be aware. For example, a higher consumption of fat (even good fats) can lead to obesity due to its high caloric value. In addition, it has not been proven that diet alone contributes to the health of the Mediterranean people. In fact, it could well be due to other lifestyle factors like exercise.

 

If you are planning to follow such a diet, here are some tips.

  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. Strive to get at least 7 portions on a daily basis. Snack on fruits and veggies such as cut up raw vegetables. Fill half your plate with veggies at mealtimes.

  • Use canola or olive oil instead of butter when cooking. However, use it as a replacement of other fats instead of adding it to your diet. You do not want to add extra calories because this could lead to a weight gain.

  • Eat legumes such as lentils, beans and tofu instead of meats. This will help lower your saturated fat intake and increase fiber intake.

  • Eat fish twice a week. Salmon, trout, water-packed tuna, etc. are all healthy choices. Avoid fried fish as much as possible.

  • Limit high fat dairy products. Switch to skim or 1% milk; low-fat yogurt and cheese.

  • Avoid processed and fried meats.

  • Eat small portions of walnuts, almonds, pecans and Brazil nuts for quick snack. However, these are high in calories so keep your portion down to ľ cup.

  • If itís OK with your doctor, you can enjoy a glass of red wine with your meal every so often. However, if you donít drink, no need to start.

  • Exercise. Part of a healthier lifestyle is incorporating daily physical activities in your life.

  • Take time for yourself. Having ďme timeĒ will help in all areas of your life. When you feel good about yourself and are not stressed, your family, friends and co-workers will notice the positive change.

 

 

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