What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a healthy and delicious way to eat. It has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. The cool thing about this diet is that it does not require you to give up your favourite foods! By just making a few easy tweaks, you can create recipes that are both tasty and good for you.
This post will discuss what exactly the Mediterranean diet entails, as well as provide some great tips on how to make healthier choices when cooking your favourite dishes. You will also find two amazing recipes--one for breakfast & one for dinner--that are perfect for those who follow this lifestyle change. Let's get started!
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest and the most well-known diets around the world today. It's mainly plant-based with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes such as peas or beans. Foods like pasta, rice, bread and olive oil are included in this type of diet which also includes moderate amounts of fish or poultry a few times a month as well as eggs every day.
It also includes olive oil as the main source of fat instead of butter or other processed oils. Olive oil contains cancer-fighting antioxidants called polyphenols which can protect you from cancer and heart disease. The diet recommends limiting red meat to only a few times a month and consuming moderate amounts of dairy products such as cheese or yogurt to obtain enough calcium for healthy bones.
Fish & seafood are eaten regularly because they are great sources of lean protein. Drinking moderate amounts-no more than one glass per day-of wine is advised because it will provide antioxidants that fight free radicals found in our bodies that cause disease. Finally, the diet recommends eating plenty of fruit and vegetables daily since they contain antioxidants and fibre.
To sum up, the Mediterranean diet is a healthy, balanced way of life that promotes longevity and can help prevent disease.
How does the Mediterranean compare to other diets?
Compared to other diets, the Mediterranean diet is rich in fish, vegetables and healthy fats. It contains no processed foods, very little red meat, a moderate amount of wine and a lot of olive oil. The Mediterranean diet doesn't limit dairy products or grains, but since they are not consumed on a regular basis, they don't make up an important part of the diet.
In contrast, other diets require their followers to cut out entire food groups from their meals, such as carbohydrates or fat, which results in malnutrition and lack of energy since some nutrients cannot be obtained from one type of food. In addition, these dietary regimes eliminate certain food types without replacing them with healthier alternatives which can have unhealthy consequences.
Why should you consider this diet for yourself?
Are you interested in the Mediterranean diet but not sure if it is for you? It's okay. But before digging into a Mediterranean meal, make sure you know what it is and why you might want to make it a part of your lifestyle.
The Mediterranean diet is an eating plan that allows individuals to get the most out of their food while also benefitting from its nutritional value and properties. It consists of foods that we would typically find in countries such as Italy, Greece and Spain and they include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes, olive oil and nuts.
The Mediterranean diet is also low in saturated fat and focuses on plant-based protein sources rather than meats which can be high in fat or sodium when consumed excessively. Margarine or vegetable spreads are not allowed when following this diet because they contain trans fats which lead to poor health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Instead, margarine made with unsaturated oils is recommended to lower bad cholesterol levels.
The main parts of this diet include nuts and seeds such as hazelnuts, almonds and sesame seeds; olives; fruits such as grapes, apricots and dates; vegetables such as peppers, onions and leafy greens; whole grains such as wheat and barley; potatoes with skin on them; dried beans such as kidney beans, black-eyed peas and lentils; lean cuts of meat from chicken, lamb and beef; fresh fish such as cod, sardines and tuna instead of processed meats like salami or pepperoni.
So, do you like what you've read so far about the Mediterranean diet? Well, that's just a little background on what it is.
Let's take a look at the indications, contraindications, some of the foods involved in the diet and talk about how it works, shall we?
What are the indications of the Mediterranean diet?
The diet is a good one for those wishing to lose weight without going on a crash diet that might leave a person feeling hungry most of the time. Since this particular eating plan does not focus on cutting out any food types but rather focuses more heavily on plant proteins with smaller amounts of animal protein in it, it allows its followers to enjoy their meals while simultaneously losing weight.
What are the contraindications of the Mediterranean diet?
Besides allergies, there are few contraindications to the Mediterranean diet. However, anyone with a medical condition that causes them to have difficulty digesting fat may want to avoid this particular eating plan since it contains quite a bit of fat in some of its dishes. Those individuals suffering from heart disease should be wary of this diet as well since some of the recipes do involve frying foods, and while olive oil is a healthier alternative for cooking, too much can still lead to health problems such as high cholesterol or triglycerides.
Now that we got the negatives out of the way, let's talk about why should you consider trying out this diet regime after all - starting with its amazing benefits!
The benefits of a Mediterranean diet
Here are some reasons why you should make this type of meal planning a priority.
It will help you have more energy
The Mediterranean diet is made up of mostly plant-based foods which are both full of energy and nutrients. Plant sources include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. These types of foods contain plentiful antioxidants that boost the immune system, slow ageing processes and protect against cancer. They are high in dietary fibre but low in fat so they fill you up without adding excess calories to your diet. Also included are moderate amounts of dairy products such as cheese or yogurt since these foods have been shown to prevent certain diseases, including coronary heart disease as well as osteoporosis.
Mediterranean diet will help you prevent heart disease and strokes.
People who eat a Mediterranean-style diet have a lower risk for heart disease than people who don't, and their overall mortality is lower too. In fact, in May 2014, an analysis in the journal Open Heart suggested that following a Mediterranean diet after a first heart attack could cut the chance of another one or dying from cardiovascular causes in half.
The fact that the consumption of fish – an important component of the Mediterranean Diet – is associated with lower levels of creatine kinase (CK) in blood suggests it lowers your risk of cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease).
This effect seems to be particularly strong among women: In 2013, researchers reported in Circulation that following such a diet rich in healthy fats (like olive oil), vegetables, whole grains, certain fruits (like grapes), and beans was associated with about half the risk of heart disease for women compared to women who didn't eat that way. It will also help maintain your blood pressure and cholesterol levels which in turn reduces the chances of cardiovascular conditions such as heart attack and stroke.
It will help you lose weight
Although it is possible to follow a Mediterranean diet and not lose weight if you eat more than you burn, the typical menu emphasizes healthy fats and mostly complex carbs that will help you drop a few pounds or maintain your current weight. Your meals will be low in simple sugars and saturated fat which is often found in processed foods.
It may help you lose weight because it will fill you up with fibre-rich foods that are high in nutrients and yet low in calories.
Mediterranean diet will help keep you agile and strong.
Mediterranean diet consists of fruits and vegetables, which can help you stay agile and maintain a healthy weight. You'll also get the right amount of lean protein to build muscle, strengthen immunity and keep your cells functioning normally.
This means that this way of eating will help keep your body lean, agile and strong for years to come.
This diet can help prevent or delay some types of cell damage
The Mediterranean diet can help slow down ageing since it's rich in antioxidants - nutrients found abundantly in spices like cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, oregano and peppers which are known for their antioxidant properties.
As positive effects of following this lifestyle start showing up inside your body (lower cholesterol levels), outside you will feel younger looking with more energy to go out walking in the park or go yoga with friends.
It will help half the risk of Parkinson's disease.
Adopting the Mediterranean diet can lead to a 50% lower chance of having Parkinson's disease, according to 2017 research. In the study, those who closely followed a Mediterranean diet had less than half the risk of Parkinson's disease compared to those whose eating habits were least like the traditional Mediterranean guidelines. Scientists said that this finding was consistent with previous observational studies and clinical trials, which have suggested that certain dietary patterns may protect against Parkinson's disease.
It can help protect you against type 2 diabetes.
A Mediterranean diet is low in total fat, especially saturated fat. It usually includes a high intake of olive oil, vegetables and fruits as well as a moderate amount of fish and poultry. This type of meal plan also contains a moderate amount of whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. People who eat this diet have been shown to have lower rates of diabetes, specifically type 2 or the adult-onset type. This is a diet that regularly includes plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains, as well as fish or poultry at least twice a week.
In addition to consuming healthy foods, people who regularly engage in the Mediterranean diet also eat less meat, sweets and sugary drinks.
Mediterranean diets promote healthy ageing
A Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts (and their derivative products), beans/legumes (and their derivative products), whole grains, cereal products (bread and pastries) with moderate quantities of fish or seafood, poultry, olive oil as the main source of fats (~30-40%), dairy (mostly cheese and yogurt) ~1-2 servings per day, red wine during meals (~15g alcohol ~5oz); it should be noted that there are variations within this region based on local customs. This describes a healthy eating plan like many nutritious foods that promote healthy ageing.
Mediterranean Diet Recipes
Mediterranean diet has been proven to be healthy for the body. Recipes that would be found on a typical menu for someone following the Mediterranean Diet Recipes include fish, vegetables and olive oil.
Avocado Caprese Salad
Love salad? Here's one of the best Mediterranean salad recipes from foodiecrush.com that we think you'd like:
- 2 ounces fresh arugula (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 avocado washed, pitted, and sliced
- 1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- A sprig of fresh basil leaves, stemmed and washed
- 1 tbsp honey or a generous pinch of sugar
- 3 slices mozzarella cheese
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 fresh tomatoes (sliced)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a serving bowl, combine the arugula, tomato, avocado slices, and mozzarella.
- Sprinkle the top with slivered or torn basil leaves.
- Whisk the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar or honey, and kosher salt in a small mixing dish until well combined.
- Toss with a spatula to combine.
- Serve immediately.
Roasted Tomatoes with Thyme and Feta
Looking for an easy side dish to complete your meal? Here's a dish that's not just easy to do but also highly nutritious.
In fact, according to USDA research, cooking tomatoes offers additional health advantages. Heat treatment increases the availability of lycopene, one of the major antioxidants in tomatoes, which enhances their nutritional value.
- 2 lbs halved Campari tomatoes (you can also use Roma, plum, or cherry tomatoes)
- ½ tsp dry, mild chilli pepper flakes
- 2 to 3 minced garlic cloves
- Crumbled or dices feta cheese, optional
- A pinch of freshly ground pepper
- A pinch of kosher salt
- 1 tsp sumac
- 2 tsp fresh thyme
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Then, cut the tomato in halves and place in a large mixing bowl.
- Season with salt, pepper, minced garlic, fresh thyme, and spices.
- Pour about ¼ cup or more, quality extra virgin olive.
- Toss with a spatula to combine.
- Transfer into a rimmed baking pan with a baking sheet.
- In one single layer, place the tomatoes in the pan.
- Place the tomatoes in the baking dish and roast for 30 to 35 minutes in an oven heated to 350°F, or until they have been cooked as you prefer.
- Remove from heat once it has cooked.
- If you'd like to add more fresh thyme and a few sprinkles of feta cheese, feel free to do so. Serve warm.
This dish, is from themediterraneandish.com.
Ah, pasta! Quick and easy to make, pasta is a perfect staple for a weekday. So, here's something you can cook for every occasion--whether it is a hectic family weeknight or a romantic date night in with your significant other, this pasta is something you'd wanna try.
- 1 can quartered artichoke hearts
- 1 can whole black olives
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 small whole garlic
- 1 whole fresh lemon
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 ½ tbsp kosher salt
- 400 grams cherry or grape tomatoes
- 170 grams whole wheat pasta or whole wheat angel hair pasta
- Fill a large stockpot halfway with water and add 1 tablespoon salt.
- Add and bring the pasta to a boil, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain when al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, start preparing the vegetables and remaining ingredients: mince the garlic; drain and rinse the artichokes, and cut the tomatoes in half.
- In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, garlic, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, crushed red pepper flakes, and black pepper.
- Stir frequently until the garlic smells fragrant and the tomatoes start to break down and release their juices into the oil for about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the pasta and toss to coat, followed by the artichokes and olives.
- Drizzle the lemon juice over the pasta and toss well.
- Continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes or until warmed through.
- If the pasta looks too dry, get the reserved pasta water and pour it into the pasta to loosen it up.
- Taste and then season with salt and pepper as desired.
- Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle Parmesan and parsley over the pasta.
- Toss again and enjoy.
This delicious and inviting dish from wellplated.com has angel hair pasta made entirely of fresh ingredients, such as tomatoes, parmesan artichoke hearts, and more topped off with melted butter, making this dish not only healthy but sumptuous too.
This low-carb dish from bbcgoodfood.com is somewhat like paella but has deeper paprika tastes, as it is slow-cooked in a basmati rice pot.
- 250g basmati rice
- 400g chopped tomato
- 250g sliced baby chorizo
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 4 crushed garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 thinly sliced large onion
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 sprig of chopped parsley
- 600ml stock
- 1 lemon, cut in thick wedges
- Zest of 1 large lemon
- In a medium-sized pan with a lid, heat the olive oil on medium-low.
- Add the onion and sauté for 5-8 minutes, or until soft and golden brown.
- Remove from the pan, then add the chorizo to one side.
- Brown lightly until some of the oils are released into the pan.
- In a large saucepan, heat the oil and butter over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and paprika and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, then turn down the heat to low.
- Simmer gently for 5 minutes before adding the rice, stock, lemon zest, and bay leaves.
- Stir everything together thoroughly and bring to a boil.
- Place the lid on and simmer for 12 minutes over very low heat.
- Turn off the heat, leave for a few minutes, and steam for 10-15 minutes.
- Toss in the parsley and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.
Mediterranean Pizza with Lemon, Ricotta, and Zucchini,
Who doesn't like pizza? And who says one can't make a Mediterranean pizza? On a pizza, lemon and chives may seem strange, but they go well with zucchini and creamy ricotta. And thanks to foodnetwork.com, here's a recipe with a refreshing flavour in every bite.
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp finely chopped chives for garnish
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Lemon zest squeezed from 1 large lemon
- 3 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 12-inch prepared pizza dough
- 1/2 cup ricotta
- A pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced tomatoes
- 3/4 cup cut zucchini
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Coat a pizza pan with nonstick cooking wax or spray and set it on the rack.
- Place the zucchini strips in a colander over the sink, sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt, and let drain for 15 minutes. Dry the zucchini using a paper towel or kitchen towel.
- Add 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and half lemon zest. Set aside.
- Remove the core and stems from the tomato slices. Gently squeeze out any extra moisture using a paper towel, then set them aside.
- Stretch the dough to a diameter of 12 inches or just exactly how you want it in the pizza pan.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the chives, 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper, remaining lemon juice and zest.
- Spread the ricotta cheese over the prepared dough, leaving a small border around the edge.
- Then, arrange the tomato slices and zucchini slices evenly over the ricotta.
- Lightly drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil.
- Sprinkle parmesan cheese and garnish with chives.
- Bake until the pizza crust is golden brown and the cheese looks bubbly, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve.
Mediterranean Yoghurt Parfait with Honey, Plums, and Peaches
Now let's talk about desserts! While we're discussing recipes and Mediterranean food, why not Indulge in ourselves with a Mediterranean yogurt parfait?
Here's a recipe we grabbed from cookingchanneltv.com, and we hope you like it as much as we do!
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 pitted and quartered peaches
- 4 pitted and quartered plums
- 1 star anise
- 4 tbsp raw sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1/4 cup toasted and roughly chopped walnuts
- 2 cups plain, thick Greek yogurt
- In a mixing cup, combine the yogurt and 2 tablespoons of honey until blended.
- Using a saucepan, over medium heat, combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar, remaining honey, zest, cinnamon, star anise and vanilla bean.
- Add the plums and peaches into the saucepan. Bring to a boil and lower heat. After that simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the fruits are saucy and soft.
- Remove from the heat and place in the refrigerator until cold.
- In a tall glass, layer the stewed fruit and yogurt.
- Serve with a spoonful of yogurt, chopped nuts, and honey on top.
The Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle. It's not just about what you cook, eat, but also how you cook and live your life. This dietary regimen has been shown to promote weight loss while improving cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of developing certain cancers, and lowering inflammation in obese adults with metabolic syndrome. If this sounds like something that might work for you or someone close to you wants to learn more about this diet, share this article! We also have other blogs about other types of diet, exercises, and self-care. Subscribe and find a nice read that will be best suited for your needs and goals.