The Mediterranean diet is the diet of the people living around the Mediterranean basin during the 50s and 60s of the 20th century. It is inspired by many cultures from different countries mainly Greece, Italy France, Spain, and North African countries like Algeria and Morocco. in 2022, it is considered to be the best plant-based diet available around for people’s overall wellbeing and health. After much research done on it, it was found to be of great benefit to people suffering from all sorts of diseases especially cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes mellitus. It also decreases the risk of getting many chronic conditions. Not only has it been the number one-ranked diet that is plant-based, heart-healthy, best for diabetes and easy to follow all over the world in 2022, but it has been so through the last couple of years starting from 2018 till now and with each year that passes, more research is done to show the great benefits of this famous diet.
Unlike many diets, the Mediterranean plan doesn’t have set rules and regulations over a certain amount of time that promises you to lose a couple of pounds by the end of it, but in fact, it isn’t a temporary thing. It is a drastic continuous lifestyle change that you actively incorporate into your daily routine by focusing on natural organic ingredients good for your health and using them in a wide variety of recipes in all meals with avoidance of certain harmful ingredients. It is very directed towards natural food sources highly keen on vegetables and fruits of all colors and types, eating whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, with all sorts of flavorful herbs and spices, along with moderate servings of poultry, eggs, and fish twice a week as the main sources for protein.
Healthy fat is one of the best assets of this diet as the main type of fat used is olive oil since olives are widely abundant in these countries and have been used for ages. it has been shown that it is of great benefit to our bodies better than any other type of oil with its content of monounsaturated fatty acids that promote cardiovascular health. Moderate alcohol consumption is also one of the main features of this diet as red or white wine almost always accompany meals. Restricting the use of refined sugars, processed food, red meats, refined grains is an important step in following this diet, as they are mainly the root causes of many of the chronic diseases that a lot of people all around the world suffer from greatly nowadays.
This diet focuses on being mindful and eating slowly, savoring the food you are eating to appreciate the taste of every bite rather than just consuming the food to fill your stomach in a fast-paced manner that the western diet is usually accustomed to. It ensures you get the best quality fresh foods that are naturally picked from the earth which are actually beneficial and nourishing to you rather than having refined processed food that only has additives and harmful chemicals that harm your body in many ways.
The diet differs from region to region according to the culture of the people. For example, in Italy, the Mediterranean diet is high in pasta consumption while in Spain they eat more seafood and fish and in Greece, they eat more salads and whole grain bread with lots of olive oil and cheese. In northern Africa, they eat more lentils and vegetables. This variation is what makes the Mediterranean diet so unique as it isn’t restrictive as other types of diets.
The traditional Mediterranean diet pyramid:
▲ Daily consumption:
- whole-grain bread, pasta, couscous, polenta, bulgur, rice, non-refined cereals
- vegetables and fruits.
- beans, lentils, and legumes
- dairy products like milk and Greek yogurt
- nuts and seeds
- olive oil main source of fat
▲ Weekly consumption:
- 3,4 servings of fish and seafood
- 2,3 servings of poultry
▲ Monthly consumption:
- red meat and meat products
➠ Now, let’s discuss benefits, what to eat & what to avoid on the mediterranean diet