Load up on vegetables
Despite an influx of food diets abounding, the Mediterranean diet has risen high in the pack as one that is genuinely healthy for the body. It is modeled after the basic dietary habits of people who live in the Mediterranean region.
What does the Mediterranean Diet look like?
The Mediterranean diet plan is categorized by a diet high in fruits and vegetables (often as many as nine servings per day). Followers of this diet also consume a low amount of red meat, eating instead a greater portion of fish several times a week. The Mediterranean diet menu also includes eating a small portion of a variety of nuts and healthy fats (like olive oil or canola oil). Red wine is also a part of this diet menu, in moderate amounts. Because grains in this region are usually whole grains, pasta and rice are also a welcome part of this diet.
But is it healthy?
The Mediterranean diet is associated with good heart health and contains the basic elements of healthy eating, so yes, this diet fits well within a generally healthy lifestyle. Studies conducted within the U.S. have shown that those who ate according to the Mediterranean diet lowered their risk of both heart disease and obesity-related cancers.
Shopping for the Mediterranean Diet
Despite its exotic associations, there's nothing exotic about the Mediterranean diet food list – everything you need can easily be found at your local grocery store. A big part of the diet is just changing the ratio of foods you probably already eat on a regular basis.
The Mediterranean food pyramid is a slightly restructured version of the FDA's food pyramid. The bottom level features whole grains like bread, pasta and couscous, followed by vegetables, fruits, beans and nuts. The third level from the bottom is olive oil (or another healthy oil), followed by a cheese and yogurt level, a fish and poultry level, a sweets level and finally, a red meat level at the very top. Red meat should only be eaten a few times per month in very small amounts.
A host of Mediterranean diet recipes can be found online and in books like the Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, but once you are familiar with the basics of the diet, you can create any meal that falls within its guidelines. For example, grilled salmon with lentils and sautéed asparagus or Italian bean soup with a handful of hazelnuts (and a glass of red wine) make for excellent Mediterranean diet meals.
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