Mediterranean cultures inherit healthy eating habits that benefit all people. In addition, the food culture of the Mediterranean countries is known all over the world and has achieved first place as the healthiest diet in the world. If you have decided to change your eating habits, keep reading and learn about the ten basic things you need to follow in the Mediterranean diet.
Adherence to the Mediterranean diet and health benefits
The Mediterranean diet has become one of the most well-known diets in the world, mainly due to its wide-ranging health effects. Below you will find its main benefits.
1. Adherence to a Mediterranean diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease
A study by Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health found that women who follow a Mediterranean diet have a 25% lower risk of cardiovascular disease for 12 years. Such eating habits have been linked to lower levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) in the blood.
2. Adherence to a Mediterranean diet can help prolong life
According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Athens Medical School , such eating habits have been linked to longer life expectancy.
3. Adherence to a Mediterranean diet can help prevent cognitive decline
A 2015 study shows that people who follow a Mediterranean diet improve their cognitive abilities.
Another study found that good eating habits could slow some of the changes in the brain in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
4. Following a Mediterranean diet can help protect against cancer
In 2017, researchers found evidence that adhering strictly to this diet may reduce the risk of cancer, especially colon and rectal cancers. In addition, the study found that it slightly reduced the incidence of breast cancer.
How should I start following the Mediterranean diet?
The first step in the Mediterranean diet is to know its basis, i.e. the foods that make up this diet mainly and that make it one of the healthiest diets in the world.
They are presented below.
1. Olive oil is the most widely used fat
Thanks to olive oil, the Mediterranean diet is high in vitamin E, monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants. It is used for seasoning salads, frying, on bread and everything else that requires oil for sauce or cooking! So if you are going on a Mediterranean diet, use olive oil instead of butter.
2. Eat plant-based foods daily
The Mediterranean diet is eaten daily with vegetables, fruits, legumes and nuts, which are full of minerals, vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. According to the food pyramid of the Mediterranean diet, each main meal should include:
- 1-2 fruits
- More than 2 servings of vegetables as such or cooked. Preferably, you should eat at least one serving of raw vegetables daily.
3. Eat grains daily
It is recommended to add one or two servings of cereals, whole grains, preferably in the form of rice, pasta, bread, couscous and other ingredients to each meal. Carbohydrates from these foods provide the energy needed for the day.
4. Choose fresh seasonal produce
Enjoying local seasonal produce is a great way to get a lot of nutrients, flavors and aromas in your food. Choose less processed products and resort to seasonal ingredients. It is a health act that also benefits the environment.
5. Limit eating red meat
Due to health problems from animal fat, it is recommended to consume processed and red meat in moderation. The Mediterranean diet is low in saturated fat.
6. Eat dairy products daily
Eating yogurts and cheeses daily is part of the Mediterranean diet. They provide essential minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, as well as vitamins and high-quality protein.
7. Eat fish twice a week and eggs three to four times a week
Adherence to the Mediterranean diet requires a reduction in red meat consumption and an increase in fish consumption, as fish contain Omega-3. Also eat eggs as they are a great source of protein.
8. Eat very few pastries and sweets
This does not mean that pastries should be given up altogether, but they should be eaten in moderation. In fact, they are recommended to eat less than two servings a week.
9. Choose water to drink
Water is a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet and should be the main beverage. Wine is also part of this diet, but it is healthy only when used in moderation.
10. Exercise with plenty of exercise
A good diet is not the only thing you should follow to stay healthy. Also, be sure to exercise regularly and daily to benefit from this healthy diet.
As you can see, following the Mediterranean diet requires certain lifestyle changes. If you have any questions about this diet, contact your doctor or nutritionist. An expert can guide you through the process and help you create a menu according to your own energy needs and nutritional requirements.