The Mediterranean diet has been popularized by the media in recent years, and it’s likely that you’ve heard about it one way or another. The truth is that there are more myths about this diet than truths, and many of these myths could have a negative impact on your health if you take them at face value. Here are 10 myths about the Mediterranean diet that need to be debunked once and for all so you can get the most out of what it has to offer you!
1: The Mediterranean diet is high in fat
It is a low-fat diet. It does not only restrict you from what foods you can eat, but it also focuses on which types of food you can eat and how much. The whole point of this diet is to stay away from fast or processed foods and focus on eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in order to achieve weight loss results. Fats found in the Mediterranean diet come from unsaturated sources such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds like sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
2: Olive oil is a staple
Olive oil is more than just a condiment, it’s a staple of many Mediterranean dishes. Oils used in cooking such as canola, corn and soybean oils should be replaced with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) for healthier fats. After eating a tasty Italian dish laden with sauce and cheese, drizzle some EVOO on your bread for dessert.
3: No dairy allowed
It is not true that you can’t eat dairy on a Mediterranean diet. You can have up to four servings of dairy daily in your diet, but it should come from low-fat and low-sugar options such as skim milk, whole-fat yogurt, hard cheese (not greasy), cream cheese or kefir. Note: if you are lactose intolerant, this is not an appropriate choice for you.
4: Fish every day
When we first learned about the importance of Omega-3 fatty acids for cardiovascular health, we began cooking with more fish. Fish has a healthy balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which are crucial for brain development and maintaining healthy skin. That said, not all fish is equally beneficial because it can also contain high levels of mercury, which is toxic to the human body. For this reason, it is important to eat only 2 servings per week at most (1 serving = 3 ounces).
5: Vegetarian meals are the best part of this diet
There are many parts of the Mediterranean diet that are not vegetarian-friendly and it’s important for vegetarians who want to stick with this diet to prepare their meals accordingly. Dairy is still a major part of this diet, and there are some types of meat (such as red meat) which should be avoided if you’re looking for more vegetarian options.
6: Olive oil and tomatoes rule on this diet
Now while it is true these are two important staples of the diet, they are not necessarily what makes it unique. The primary difference in this diet when compared to others is a heavy emphasis on healthy fats, like olive oil and nuts. These fats provide more energy, help maintain your immune system, and have protective benefits for your heart.
7: Being gluten-free isn’t easy with this diet
Making sure your go-to foods are gluten-free can sometimes be tricky with this diet. You have to make sure the meat you’re eating is not rubbed in flour or dusted in breadcrumbs, or anything like that. While potatoes, legumes, and quinoa are all safe gluten-free options with this diet plan, you should check for seasonings like soy sauce, vinegar and wine which may contain gluten.
8: Wine is good for your heart
Wine might not be good for your heart after all. A meta-analysis of studies published in The Lancet indicated that when consuming more than one drink per day, wine can have as much of a harmful effect on cardiovascular health as alcohol does. Wine might seem like a better option than beer or hard liquor, but it is still alcohol and should not be used to replace these more dangerous substances.
9: Fresh herbs only, please
Fresh herbs only, please. I get it; you want to avoid eating food out of a can. But, did you know that many canned foods can be more nutritious than fresh produce? For example, some canned produce is grown in locales without adequate irrigation systems, making it more difficult and expensive for them to grow their own produce – some even use their last acre of soil for growing something else just so they can have water for the rest of their garden!
10: Meals are served family style
When people think of a Mediterranean meal, they usually imagine a long table set with dinnerware and families sitting together. The meal is served family style and includes dishes like roasted lamb, grilled octopus, braised beef ribs, sautéed mushrooms, herbed eggs and garlicky harissa sauce. Dessert might include figs wrapped in bacon or baklava. All these dishes are meant to be shared by those around the table. However, not all meals on the diet are served this way.