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Is the Mediterranean Diet for You?

Eating healthy, it is on many of our minds. We want to lead healthy, long lives so that we can see our children grow and set a healthy example for them. While many people across America are dealing with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and being overweight, there are many regions of the earth where these problems are not common.

The Mediterranean region of the world is commonly great at avoiding these problems. The Greek, eastern European, people eat a diet that is common is several things. I’ll cover some of their diet staples and why they work so well to keep the region healthy. What you eat can greatly increase or decrease your chance of suffering from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and becoming overweight.

First of all the Mediterranean people eat a diet that is rich in plant foods. Most meals in a single household focus on a centerpiece that is not an animal or meat source. Many meals are centered on pasta, grains, rice and even vegetables. Also, legumes such as chickpeas, beans, and lentils are mixed in to many meals. These legumes have great protein content and are full of fiber. Fiber keeps your cardiovascular system clean and running efficiently. Also, instead of eating cookies, cake, chocolate and candy for dessert, many times dessert is fruit! What a great way to incorporate more vitamins into a meal and reduce the sugar and fat content of a meal!

Olive oil is also a main ingredient in many dishes! Almost everything a Mediterranean consumes has olive oil somewhere in it. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that has been shown to reduce the LDL or bad cholesterol and raise the HDL or good cholesterol in a person’s blood. If you are cooking with oil, olive oil is your best choice!

Another trick to the Mediterranean diet is that they eat very little red meat. While the dietitians always seem to be up or down to the value of meat consumption, a good rule is to keep it in moderation. Red meat is only consumed a few times a month in many Mediterranean households. Fish and chicken are much more commonly consumed. Even those choices of meat are not consumed each day, but considered a special meal reserved for only a few nights a week. If you are looking for healthy fish choice, choose fish that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Some great fish choices include: salmon, herring, and lake trout. The Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to protecting yourself against heart disease.

The dairy consumption of Mediterranean households is also very different from that in a standard American home. The main source of dairy is yogurt and feta cheese. Yogurt has been proven all over to provide a healthy source of many nutrients for your body. The cultures in yogurt aid digestion and can help keep your digestive tract healthy. Feta cheese is also very common and because of the strong flavor, you only need a little. This helps to reduce the excess fat intake that many favorite American cheeses contain.

The last trick to a Mediterranean diet is wine! Wine is commonly consumed on a daily basis. With each evening meal many Mediterranean households choose wine as a beverage. While moderation is the key with wine consumption, there may be more benefits to wine than we know of. There have been links that associate wine drinking with a healthy heart, so drink up! It is suggested to limit a woman’s intake to one glass a day and a man’s intake to two glasses a day.

Combining all these key notes to your diet may indeed help you live a healthier lifestyle. It is always worth a try, and if the diet keeps a region healthy, there must be some truth to it! Eat like the Mediterraneans and you may live like the Mediterraneans!

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