The Mediterranean diet has been shown to have numerous health benefits, so it’s becoming increasingly popular in the Western world. If you’re interested in eating healthier but aren’t sure how to start, this article will give you 10 facts about the Mediterranean diet that may motivate you to take more of an interest in it. For example, did you know that the average Greek consumes about 7 times as many vegetables per day as the average American? Or that early evidence suggests that the intake of tomatoes can help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer? Or that olive oil—one of the main components of Mediterranean dishes—has heart-healthy properties?
1) it includes grains
A core component of the Mediterranean diet is grains. Whole grains are an important source of carbohydrates, as well as healthy dietary fiber. While breads and pasta are common sources of carbs in the Mediterranean diet, couscous is a popular grain that you might not have heard of yet. Couscous is a type of wheat flour that’s made from semolina, so it has a coarse texture similar to pasta or rice.
2) It’s flexible
The Mediterranean diet is based off of a traditional way of eating in Southern Europe, so it takes into account every person’s preferences and cooking skill level. It also is widely accepted by health professionals as one of the most healthy diets you can choose. That said, even though there are some aspects that are very structured, like using olive oil instead of butter, there are others that have a more flexible and subjective guideline. Like how much pasta or bread people choose to eat in a day.
3) There are many variations in what constitutes a mediterranean diet
There are many variations in what constitutes a mediterranean diet, but in general it means eating a mostly plant-based diet with minimal processed foods and little to no refined sugars. Some of the most common ingredients are olives, tomatoes, nuts, whole grains, potatoes, beans and fresh fruits and vegetables. Breads should also be included in moderation – so as not to spike blood sugar levels.
4) A great source of healthy fats
Even though fat is high in calories, it’s also full of many nutrients that your body needs for healthy living. On the Mediterranean diet, you’re encouraged to eat a lot of food with plenty of olive oil and nuts. This means you’ll get plenty of healthy fats and other nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K.
5) The mediterranean diet includes red wine
The truth is that one glass of red wine per day can be good for your health! As part of a healthy diet, it’s important to drink in moderation. If you drink more than five glasses per day, though, there are definite disadvantages. The key to responsible drinking is not to exceed the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s guidelines for moderate drinking: up to one drink per day for women, up to two drinks per day for men.
6) Mediterraneans eat pork, but also lots of fish and seafood
- They eat a lot of olive oil, but they never cook with it. The oil is used as a condiment or in dressings.
- 2. Salt isn’t just used for flavor, it’s also used to preserve food in much the same way as people in other cultures salt meat before they cook it and fish while they are being prepared; mediterraneans season their food but use salt sparingly.
7) Olive oil is considered unhealthy
One thing that might surprise you about the diet is how unhealthy some of its components are. Olive oil, for example, is far from a healthy oil. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that it contains compounds called polyphenols which are linked to inflammation and cell death. These same compounds are found in red wine and green tea which can be considered healthy depending on your intake.
8) French bread isn’t too far from mediterranean breads
One of the staples of mediterranean cuisine is a staple in many of our households: bread. However, not all French breads are the same. If you’re baking your own loaf, make sure to use semolina or high-quality whole wheat flour with just a little bit of white flour and a touch of sugar for flavor.
9) Soy products are uncommonly eaten in the mediterranean region, which makes traditional soy not a good substitute for traditional foods.
Soy products are uncommonly eaten in the mediterranean region, which makes traditional soy not a good substitute for traditional foods. In addition, studies have shown that consuming large amounts of soy can lead to an excess of Vitamin E and polyunsaturated fats that may be associated with heart problems.
The Mediterranean diet has been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
10) There is a focus on limiting processed foods, chemical additives and sweeteners
The Mediterranean diet features a heavy emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods. With its roots stemming from those of ancient Greece and Rome, this type of diet uses lots of seasonal vegetables and fruits, beans, whole grains, fish, and olive oil.
The world has taken notice to this style of eating – new studies are linking it to significant reductions in weight as well as lower rates of heart disease.