The Mediterranean diet was recently voted the best diet for 2019 in rankings announced Wednesday by US News and World Report. But what exactly is the Mediterranean diet? If, like most people, you find yourself wondering what makes this diet so beneficial then you came to the right place.
The Mediterranean diet emphasized the consumption of traditional food that people in countries around the Mediterranean sea eat. The diet is primarily plant-based, with most meals consisting of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts.
Moderate consumption of poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt is also common. However, people who follow the Mediterranean diet don’t eat added sugar, sweetened beverages, processed meat, grains and that have been refined or any other processed foods.
Being that there are many countries around the Mediterranean sea, the exact foods you eat will generally follow your personal taste. There is no one right way to follow the Mediterranean diet. The general consensus is to consider that fish and natural plant foods.
What to Eat
- Primarily: Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, breads, fish, seafood, potatoes, herbs and spices.
- In Moderation: Poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt
- Rarely: Red meat and other oils
- Don’t Eat: Soda, candy, processed sugar, processed foods, processed meat, sweetened beverages, artificial sweeteners, refined oils, and trans fats.
The key to any diet is moderation and the Mediterranean diet is no different. As you plan your meals, keep healthy plant foods at the top of your list and move animal foods to the bottom of your priorities. This diet is certainly fun to food as your food options are abundant and generally affordable.
Love your coffee in the morning? Well, you can feel good about it because coffee and tea are allowed on the Mediterranean diet. You can even raise your glass at happy hour with a smile because wine and alcohol are also acceptable, in moderation of cause.
The Mediterranean diet is heart-healthy with its emphasis on low fat foods. People who adhere to the Mediterranean diet have noted reduced levels of “bad” cholesterol – LDL.
The Mediterranean diet is also associated with reduce occurrences of cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. According to Mayo Clinic, “a meta-analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality as well as overall mortality”.
Remember, the goal of the Mediterranean diet is not to eliminate or limit the fat consumption, but to be mindful of the types of fat you allow in to the body. Choose, instead, unprocessed fats such as “Extra-Virgin” and “Virgin” oils. They are easier for the body to break down.