The Mediterranean diet meal plan is both tasty and good for you because it is full of flavorful foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fats that are good for your heart.
It may also help your brain work better, keep your heart healthy, control your blood sugar levels, and do other things.
Even though there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules for how to follow the Mediterranean diet. There are a lot of general rules you can follow to bring the diet’s ideas into your daily life.
This article looks more closely at what the Mediterranean diet is, how to follow it, and how it can affect your health.
What is the diet of the Mediterranean?
The Mediterranean diet is based on the foods that people used to eat in France, Spain, Greece, and Italy, which are all near the Mediterranean Sea.
Researchers found that these people were very healthy and not likely to get many long-term illnesses.
Even though there are no strict rules or regulations for the diet, it usually encourages eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and heart-healthy fats. There should be less processed foods, added sugar, and refined grains.
Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet can help people lose weight and keep them from getting heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and dying too soon.
Because of this, the Mediterranean diet is often suggested to people who want to improve their health and stay away from long-term diseases.
Helps keep the heart healthy:
A lot has been learned about how the Mediterranean diet helps keep the heart healthy.
In fact, research shows that the Mediterranean diet may be linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
One study compared the effects of the Mediterranean diet and a low-fat diet and found that the Mediterranean diet was better at slowing the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
Other research suggests that the Mediterranean diet may also help lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure, which is good for the health of the heart.
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Helps keep blood sugar levels healthy:
The Mediterranean diet encourages a wide range of foods that are high in nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fats that are good for your heart.
So, this way of eating might help keep blood sugar levels steady and protect against type 2 diabetes.
Multiple studies have found that the Mediterranean diet can lower fasting blood sugar and improve hemoglobin A1C levels, which are used to measure how well blood sugar is controlled over time.
It has also been shown that the Mediterranean diet reduces insulin resistance, a condition that makes it harder for the body to use insulin to control blood sugar levels well.
How to stick to it:
Eat: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, potatoes, whole grains, herbs, spices, fish, seafood, and extra virgin olive oil
Eat just enough: food like chicken, eggs, cheese, and yogurt
Red meat, drinks with added sugar, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils, and other highly processed foods should be eaten rarely.
What to eat:
There is some disagreement about which foods are part of the Mediterranean diet, in part because they are different in different countries.
Most studies have looked at diets that are high in healthy plant foods and low in meat and animal products. But it’s best to eat fish and seafood at least twice a week.
The Mediterranean way of life also includes getting regular exercise, eating with other people, and reducing stress.
- Vegetables: tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips
- Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches
- Nuts, seeds, and nut butter: almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almond butter, peanut butter
- Legumes: beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas
- Whole grains: oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat bread, and pasta
- Fish and seafood:, salmon sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels
- Poultry: chicken, duck, turkey
- Eggs: chicken, quail, and duck eggs
- Dairy: cheese, yogurt, milk
- Herbs and spices:garlic , basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper
- Healthy fats: extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, and avocado oil
If you are following the Mediterranean diet, you should eat less of these processed foods and ingredients:
- Added sugar: added sugar is found in many foods but is especially high in soda, candies, ice cream, table sugar, syrup, and baked goods
- Refined grains: white bread, pasta, tortillas, chips, crackers
- Trans fats: found in margarine, fried foods, and other processed foods
- Refined oils: soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, grapeseed oil
- Processed meat: processed sausages, hot dogs, deli meats, beef jerky
- Highly processed foods: fast food, convenience meals, microwave popcorn, granola bars
On a Mediterranean diet, you should drink water most of the time.
On this diet, you can also have a small amount of red wine, about one glass per day.
But you don’t have to do this, and some people shouldn’t drink wine, like women who are pregnant, people who can’t drink in moderation, or people who take medicines that can interact with alcohol.
On the Mediterranean diet, you can also drink healthy coffee and tea. Be careful not to add too much sugar or cream.
You should cut down on sugary drinks like soda and sweet tea, which have a lot of added sugar. Fruit juice is fine in small amounts, but whole fruits are better if you want to get fiber benefits.
On the Mediterranean diet, you can eat a lot of healthy snacks in between meals if you start to feel hungry.
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- a small number of nuts
- an apple or pear
- hummus spread on baby carrots
- Berries in a mix
- Greek yogurt
- salt and pepper on a hard-boiled egg
- Almond butter on apple slices
- bell peppers cut up and served with guacamole
- fresh fruit with cottage cheese
- chia pudding