Information is taken from an article by Kelly Toups, MLA,RD,LDN, director of nutrition @ Oldways, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving public health through healthy cultural food traditions.
There is more scientific evidence for the health benefits of the real Mediterranean diet than for any other diet in the world. Eating the real Mediterranean way has been shown to protect people from heart disease and stroke, as well as obesity, diabetes, dementia and colon cancer.
People who eat this way also have healthier DNA and live longer on average, than people who do not. Latest research reveals adults age 60 and older who most closely followed the diet over 4 years were 38% less likely to experience frailty such as muscle weakness and fatigue, compared with those who followed it closely.
Reason: The diet is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients that help keep muscles strong as we age.
The diet evolved in olive oil producing regions near the Mediterranean Sea. It is mostly vegetables, legumes, fruit, nuts and seeds(plant foods), olive oil and seafood…some poultry and dairy …and very little red meats, sweets, or processed foods.
The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was developed 25 years ago by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health and Oldways, a nonprofit organization that promotes healthy food traditions and lifestyles, remains an excellent guide today.
It is not low fat. It is easy to find low-fat “Mediterranean” cookbooks. The real Mediterranean diet does contains plenty of fat. The olive oil is one reason why it is so easy to eat all those vegetables. Studies show sticking to the diet..fat and all..helps people lose weight and keep it off. One reason is that vegetables are so rich in fiber that they are filling.
It is not vegetarian and certainly not vegan. Seafood is the key, but it is fine to eat moderate amounts of poultry, eggs and dairy…especially fermented dairy foods such as yogurt and cheese.
WHAT IT IS:
- Eat every day: Fruits, vegetables, grains (mostly whole grains) olive oil, legumes, nuts and peanuts, herbs & spices.
- Eat often at least twice a week: Fish & other seafood.
- Eat often few times a week in moderation: Fermented dairy (yogurt, cheese) eggs.
- Eat less often, weekly: Poultry.
- Eat infrequently 1-2 times monthly, Red meats & sweets.
- Drink: Water, if you drink alcohol, only wine in moderation
- Get plenty of activity.
- Make meals relaxed & enjoyable.
- It is not low-carb: It includes plenty of grains, including moderate portions of refined pasta mixed with olive oil and veggies, fish or beans and whole grains .
- It is not about super foods: It is an eating pattern. It’s about shifting your overall approach and maintaining it for many years.
- It is not a license to drink: Alcohol plays a part in the Mediterranean diet, but, it the pattern that counts. Moderate drinking (one drink a day for women,two for men) mostly wine, almost always with meals. Beer isn’t unhealthy..it’s just not a big part of this dietary pattern. Drinking heavily, especially without eating..such as cocktail hour..is the opposite of the Mediterranean way.
- It is not low-fat: Refer to last weeks article.
- It is not vegetarian, certainly not vegan:
- Pizza: Despite its Italian name. American-style pizza is fast food and generally not good for you. One of biggest sources of calories, sodium & saturated fat in American diet. To make it healthier, make the crust whole-grain and top it with vegetables (not meat) and only a little cheese.
Nobody’s perfect, and your diet doesn’t need to be either. But you can get close to this way of eating by taking a series of small steps.
Good Luck with healthy eating.