The Mediterranean Diet Plan has been the focus of many studies since the 1950s and for good reason. Ask the question ‘what is the healthiest diet to follow’ and many experts will respond with ‘the Mediterranean diet’; specifically the traditional Greek diet consumed on the island of Crete and to some degree the foods from regions of Spain and Southern Italy.
Not only has its benefits been proven in preventing heart attacks and promoting a longer life generally but it has been shown to help ward off diabetes, bowel and prostate cancers; conditions which plague western society today.
Now you may be thinking bold heavy flavours; basil, tomatoes, yiros, churros, pasta, olive oil, abundant wine and succulent meats. But a traditional Mediterranean diet it is a little simpler than what the popular cooking shows like to promote as Mediterranean food. Such popular recipes are generally festive foods and desserts from the region.
The genuine Mediterranean diet was a largely vegetarian peasant diet, with only small amounts of meat and seafood, little dairy and even less desserts or sweet drinks. Alcohol was consumed in moderation and always with meals.
Meals of the Mediterranean diet are traditionally plant based with wholegrain breads and cereals being consumed with all meals. Vegetables are eaten with every meal and usually in abundance with up to a kilogram of fruits and vegetables being eaten in a day. Leafy greens, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, pumpkin, beans, fresh peas and capsicums account for the majority. Fresh herbs and spices are also used abundantly including garlic, turmeric, basil, parsley, rosemary, fresh pepper and unprocessed sea salt.
Legume meals are eaten at least twice a week as is fish, leaving meat to be consumed in small portions and no more than once or twice a week. Dairy foods are limited to yogurt which is eaten daily and cheese is consumed in moderation. Click here for a sample of a Mediterranean diet menu – yummo!
Olive oil is a key component of the Mediterranean diet. Used in every meal, the monounsaturated fat in olive oil is a better type of fat for prevention of heart disease compared to saturated, which comes from animal fat. The type of olive oil is also important. Extra virgin olive oil is very high in antioxidants and when combined with foods such as tomatoes, natural antioxidants called lycopene’s are more readily released and absorbed by the body.
Studies are revealing though that not only is the type of foods incredibly important to the healthy success of this diet but also the way in which the food is prepared, grown and even eaten. Many traditional Mediterranean dishes are slow cooked reducing toxic substances produced as a by-product of high heat cooking.
Casseroles rich with olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, herbs,
onions, are naturally low in saturated fats and importantly advanced glycation
end products. Food is also eaten slowly,
mindfully and celebrated as the hard earned bounty of the land that it is.
Mediterranean Diet Plan Recipes are super healthy and delicious too. If you have a favourite, don't be shy and share it with us!
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