What is the modified Mediterranean diet? The Mediterranean diet as we know it is actually a conglomerate of several countries' culinary lifestyles. There are many nations located around the Mediterranean Sea, and this modified diet is actually a mixture of all of their food cultures.
Why Should I Choose a Modified Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet follows the combined traditional diets of the countries located near the Mediterranean Sea, which include Spain, Italy, and Greece. The people of these cultures celebrate long and healthy lives, despite having food-centric lifestyles. The overall health of the Mediterranean population lets us know that it's not necessarily how much you eat that affects your health, but rather what you eat.
People who incorporate the Mediterranean diet into their lifestyle greatly reduce their risk of all sorts of health problems. To name a few:
- Insulin resistance and diabetes
- Inflammatory conditions
- High blood pressure
- Digestive ailments
- Heart disease
Modified Mediterranean Diet Basics
What exactly can you eat on the Mediterranean diet? Many good, tasty things! The point of this diet is to get a healthy amount of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fats without consuming a lot of sugar or saturated fats. How does this work? Here's the lowdown.
- The majority of your daily calories should come from (in this order):
- Vegetables and fruit
- Whole grains
- Nuts, seeds, and beans
- Your relatively low daily fat intake should come from:
- Olive oil
- Nuts and seeds
- White fish
- Lean poultry
- A few times a week, you can eat heavier, fattier things such as:
- Fatty fish
- Fatty poultry
- Red meat
Note: red meat should make an appearance on your plate only once or twice a week and should be eaten in small portions.
Eating for Health
There are many reasons why the Mediterranean diet can greatly improve your health.
Whole Grains Versus Empty Carbs
Why are whole grains, such as brown rice, better for you than refined grains, such as white rice? One word: bran. Refined, white grains have had their bran removed, which is the part of the grain that houses many of its essential nutrients.
The bran contains, among other things, a great deal of fiber. When you remove the fiber from grains, it leaves behind nothing but carbohydrates that bomb your system with sugars once they're digested. The fiber in whole grains slows the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, so that you don't experience a spike (and subsequent crash). Just like eating lots of sweets, eating refined grains can wreak havoc on your blood sugar and put you at risk for diabetes.
Good Fat Versus Bad Fat
There are many different kinds of fats in the world. Saturated fats, the kind you find in meat and dairy, contribute to heart disease. In the Mediterranean diet, you want to consume as little saturated fat as possible, hence the recommendation you limit red meat to once a week. Instead, you should eat unsaturated fats, or the ones found in fish, nuts, and vegetables. Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of unsaturated fat found in olive oil and fish, are among these friendly fats.
Fruits and Veggies!
The hardest part for most people when it comes to eating healthier is upping their intake of fruits and vegetables. Americans seem to have an aversion to greens, which are undisputedly the healthiest things on Earth you could be eating. You can find countless ways to incorporate vegetables into your daily routine, from salads to stir-fries. You can even put them in a smoothie for a tasty, energy-packed breakfast.
Ideally greens should be as big a part of your diet as possible, with fruit a close second. Plant matter is not only high in fiber, but rife with phytonutrients that medical science is only beginning to understand the value of. In addition to keeping you healthy on a day to day basis, eating fresh fruits and vegetables helps your body fight off cancer and inflammation, two conditions responsible for a huge percentage of the chronic health problems facing Americans today.
Eating, and Eating Well
It's very easy to integrate the Mediterranean diet into your lifestyle. In fact, you can eat a lot of the things you love, with a few modifications. Here are a list of links to recommended foods and recipes: