Mediterranean diet – Is it healthy or not?

Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is a diet that is flavourful and healthy. It involves consuming foods like fruits, vegetables, grains and good fat.  

It offers a wide profile of health benefits that include high brain function and improved heart health. It is also known to regulate blood sugar levels by fighting bad cholesterol in the body.  

Understanding the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is the diet based on the traditionally available food that people consume in countries like France, Spain, Italy, and Greece. The name of the diet is easy to recognise, as this is the diet which is traditionally followed by the people living in these countries, coasting along the Mediterranean Sea.

There is no fixed diet plan in the Mediterranean diet. It encourages people to eat more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, healthy fats and other natural sources of lean proteins. Traditionally, this diet refrains from refined sugar and processed foods.

The Mediterranean diet is suggested by doctors for people who look to improve their overall health.

What are the benefits of the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet is associated with a wide range of health benefits.  

Some of the most spoken benefits of this diet are as follows:

Improves brain function

Many studies and research have been made on this diet, and the results showed that people who followed the Mediterranean diet have gained improved brain health.

People who followed this diet had a lesser chance of developing memory disorders or diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Other research has revealed that the Mediterranean diet lowers the chance of a person’s risk of dementia. Following a Mediterranean diet has also proven to improve the cognitive function of the brain. It also improves memory and the processing speed of the brain in older adults.

Reducing the risk of heart strokes

By following a Mediterranean diet, we naturally eliminate the intake of processed grains and food. By avoiding such food, we reduce the risk of a person developing various heart diseases. Some of the refined food cause problems to the heart by increasing the formation of LDL cholesterol in the body.  

Reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease

Due to the high antioxidant content present in the food consumed by people following the Mediterranean diet, it will fight against free radical cell damage.

The free radicals are molecules present in the body that may cause oxidative stress and damage the cells. The antioxidants help fight free radical damage. This process would reduce half the chances of a person developing the Parkinson’s disease.

Improve agility

The body tends to get weaker as a person gets older. Various nutrients derived from the food that we consume in this diet would control the development of muscle weakness. It offers a wide profile of essential body-requiring nutrients, thus keeping the bones, joints and muscles healthy.

Reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes

As the Mediterranean diet is rich in fibre content food, it may help prevent the risk of developing type-2 diabetes. The fibre digests slowly. This would prevent spikes of insulin content in the blood. When there are minimal swings in the blood sugar level, we can maintain a healthy weight and prevent type-2 diabetes.

Increase longevity

By reducing the bad cholesterol or the LDL cholesterol level in the body, we reduce the chances of developing a heart stroke. Also, by keeping diabetes at bay, we can significantly improve our health and increase longevity.

How to follow the Mediterranean diet without feeling drained?

If anyone is feeling exhausted from the thought that changing their eating habits would make them feel drained, here are some of the ways through which we can make the diet more enjoyable.

  • Eating more vegetables
  • Not skipping any meal
  • Consuming seafood
  • Going without meat for a day
  • Consuming good fats
  • Rarely consuming sugary treats

Food in the Mediterranean diet

There is no exact count of food in this diet as it varies from country to country. Various studies on this diet confirm the intake of more plant-based foods and fewer animal products or meat. However, the standard Mediterranean diet recommends consuming seafood twice a week.

For example, the standard Mediterranean diet breakfast emphasizes eating a balanced meal including fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Animal meat is not encouraged. It can be replaced with sea food.

The main ingredients that make up this diet are  

  • Vegetables like tomatoes, spinach, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potatoes, sprouts and other leafy vegetables.
  • Fruits like apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, berries, figs and dates.
  • Nuts, seeds and nut butter.
  • Legumes and whole grains like rice, rye, wheat and oats.
  • Seafood like sardines, tuna, salmon, shrimp, oysters and crab.
  • Eggs and dairy products
  • Herbs and spices like garlic, turmeric, basil, mint, nutmeg, pepper and cinnamon.

Foods to be restricted during the diet

  • Refined sugar is an ingredient that is found in many foods. They are found in high quantities in food or drinks like soda, candies, chocolates and baked goods
  • Refined grains serve as the main ingredient in white bread, pasta chips, and other edibles
  • Foods that have trans fat like foods that are fried or processed
  • Refined oils
  • Processed meat and processed food

 There are several samples of 7-day Mediterranean meal plan diets available on the internet for reference.

To sum up

Even though there is no proper definition of what a Mediterranean diet is, people understand that it is the concept of eating food like the people living in countries nestled on the borders of the Mediterranean Sea.

The dietary pattern is rich in nutrients, mostly coming from plant food and a small portion from animal products. Instead of animal meat, this diet allows people to consume more seafood.  

This diet is considered one of the healthiest forms of diet. It is associated with many health benefits like keeping a person agile and lowering the risk of heart stroke. It is proven to improve brain health.  

Overall, it is best to adopt the principles of this diet in a way that would best suit an individual. It is recommended to consult a medical professional for more advice on food and health.  

We need to understand that the Mediterranean lifestyle involves a lot of physical activities. So, in order to improve overall health, it is best to make a few lifestyle changes along with dietary changes.  

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