There are many different diets and total lifestyle changes floating around out there, but few of them have as many proven benefits as the Mediterranean diet. It is a total lifestyle makeover, and for many, it has helped them to become much healthier, enjoy many benefits and even lose weight.
It is important to remember that it is a total lifestyle approach, however, and simply changing the way one eats will not have nearly the benefits of embracing the way of life that goes along with this – or any – diet plan.
Before the diet itself is examined, it’s important to understand the way that the people in the Mediterranean people have lived for centuries. They have always walked a lot, and the same remains true today. Small villages allow the people in much of this region to walk almost everywhere they go, and while many may commute to work, during leisure time, many walk around their towns or villages.
Large amounts of activity, even if it’s just getting from one point to another, have an amazing benefit for the body and overall health. Outdoor exercise has been shown to be very beneficial in calming stress, and the aerobic activity of walking helps to lower blood pressure, keep the heart strong and hills can also add resistance, which will add strength to the body.
When it comes to the way that the people of the Mediterranean people eat, meal times are leisurely affairs that are meant to be enjoyed. Foods are prepared fresh, which means that many of the dishes contain seasonal vegetables and lean protein.
The traditional Mediterranean diet consisted less of imported and cured foods, and contained foods that came from local resources.
Many diets will claim to be “the best one” out there, but not all of them have been so extensively studied. The Mediterranean diet has been studied extensively over the last decade and in that time many studies have confirmed the health of people that enjoy this diet. For instance, some studies have found that this diet can help aging related issues, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies have found that this diet can be beneficial in lowering bad cholesterol levels, blood pressure and reducing the chances for many different cardiovascular conditions.
Other studies have found that the Mediterranean diet is very beneficial in those that have diabetes. It helps to balance blood sugar levels and can prevent obesity. It has also been proven that this diet can even help to prevent certain types of cancer, and even help people to lose weight and keep it off when they continue to enjoy this healthy lifestyle.
What it consists of
Unlike other diets that require a person to order food to be effective, this diet encourages total lifestyle changes. It’s important to learn how to cook as most Mediterranean meals consist of whole foods. Very few foods on this diet are processed. Most of the meals that can be found in this region are made up of vegetables and fruits, certain dairy products such as yogurt and cheeses, nuts, good fats from olives, and lean proteins that are also high in healthy fats. Carbohydrates often come in the form of whole grains.
Unlike other diets that discourage any type of alcohol consumption, the Mediterranean diet includes wine because it is high in antioxidants, and they help to fight DNA altering free radicals that can cause a whole slew of health problems.
Although traditionally, most of the traditional meals feature seasonal fruits and vegetables, the readily available produce available today helps people to enjoy almost any type of meal.
Why it works
One of the reasons that it’s likely the Mediterranean diet works is because it’s already being used as a model for a healthy diet. It doesn’t focus so much on calories or what nutrients a person is getting because it is based off the concept of a colorful plate and enjoyable healthy meals. A wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables can be enjoyed with this type of diet, and since whole grains are used, people tend to feel much more satisfied.
Not to mention the wide variety of dishes that one can prepare when enjoying the Mediterranean lifestyle. There are no clubs to join or dues to pay. It’s easy to begin embracing this lifestyle by simply picking up one of the many healthy Mediterranean diet cookbooks. There is such a variety of meals, and they contain everything from seafood dishes to chicken dishes, as well as salads, and even desserts. So there is never any risk of becoming bored from a limited selection of choices.
A great way to get started is to start cooking meals from scratch and adding fresh herbs and seasonings instead of purchasing foods that are packaged and contain preservatives. Olive oil is often the oil of choice for everything from sautéing vegetables to “buttering” bread, and olives are often consumed for their rich flavor.
There are even recipes on the internet that are free. They feature healthy, Mediterranean diet meals, so even those with a limited budget can begin creating heart and body healthy meals.
The bottom line
The bottom line is that the Mediterranean diet is the diet for foodies. The fresh foods and a wide variety of flavors that it allows and embraces will keep even the unhealthiest eater feeling satisfied and happy. It even offers desserts, often flavored with honey, for a surprisingly sweet, decadent flavor that is actually a healthy alternative to many of the processed sugars that many people consume today.
For those seeking an easy way to reduce sodium, sugar and increase overall health while boosting many of the essential vitamins and minerals that they consume, the Mediterranean diet might be the simplest option. When the food a person eats is truly enjoyed, and meals are savored, it’s easy to begin to get healthy. It should be mentioned that since the foods are not processed, there is no “reduced fat” or “low sodium” flavor that many other diets have people claiming to enjoy.