Mediterranean Diet: The Healthy Heart and Weight Friendly Diet

  • Usman 

What is Mediterranean diet? | Science | Food list | Diet Menu | Recipes

So you’ve probably heard about the Mediterranean Diet.

Maybe your doctor recommended it or you watched a documentary, or read a book about it.

You are intrigued by the idea of it and want to give it a try, but how do you get started?? Can you do it?

That’s exactly what we are going to tackle in this article.

Heart diseases have become common in all over the world for some time now, and for most people the major reason is their cholesterol level going high.

When the cholesterol level of your body increases or cross its normal limits, it starts covering the walls of your arteries.

This narrows your blood vessels which affects the blood supply function of your body dangerously, causing you to suffer from a heart attack or a stroke.

But in the Mediterranean countries, it was observed that people had a lower rate of these diseases which led to the further study and development of Mediterranean diet.

mediterranean diet concept

What is Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean Diet was adopted from the way people used to eat in the countries of Italy and Greece back in the 1960s.

This diet was inspired by all the countries located on a coast line of the Mediterranean sea and with their traditional foods, because people who lived in those countries had a lower rate of heart diseases.

This diet was mainly adopted for heart patients to help them control their problems .

The Mediterranean Diet has no specific definition because in different Mediterranean countries people eat different foods. Here we will see the plan which studies provide us.

The Mediterranean diet is the traditional food of the Mediterranean countries which includes a variety of vegetables and fruits. However, American Heart Association has identified the following common characteristics in diet of the people living in Mediterranean countries.

  • Olive oil is the main source of fats
  • zero to 4 eggs a week
  • red wine in low to moderate amounts
  • Little red meat
  • Low to moderate dairy
  • High consumption of beans, nuts, vegetables, fruits, potatoes, bread and other cereals and seeds

How it Works?

The cardiovascular benefits of Mediterranean diet are well reported. It has preventive effect for stroke and myocardial infarction. (1) Another study published in December 2018 found that higher Mediterranean diet reduces cardiovascular risk by one fourth.

Other studies have shown that it also reduces mortality risk, cardiovascular risk and neuro-diseases. (2)

The diet plan also is associated with reduced risk of diabetes. (3)

You can’t start the Mediterranean Diet in hopes of losing 10 pounds in a week or magically improve your health. It is definitely your quick fix solution for your weight loss problem.

But having said that, this diet works gradually and is best in the long run. However, every individual will lose weight in accordance to their height, weight and shape.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found an inverse relation between Mediterranean diet, body mass index and obesity over a period between 1999-2000. This means that more adherence to this diet means less chances of obesity and high BMI which essentially means weight loss. (4)

Another study of more than 30,000 subjects noted that those on Mediterranean diet have less chances of becoming obese. (5)

This diet is a huge help in maintaining the levels of your blood sugar because of its richness in fibers, making you digest food slowly. Another study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that Mediterranean diet protects against obesity and type 2 diabetes. (6)

Regular water is preferred over any other beverages, but there’s also sort of reward in the form of red wine which can be taken a bit on a daily basis.

This diet encourages you a lot to increase the daily physical activities and exercise.

This diet helps you by restricting you to taking small amounts of refined or processed foods and red meat as well.

It also recommends taking red wine instead of some hard liquor which has been shown to be beneficial for your health when taken in moderation. An article published in Journal of the American Heart Association also endorses this position. (7)

It keeps you agile in your old age, by providing a rich amount of nutrients and prevents any weakness in muscles.

Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

There are a lot of Mediterranean countries and each country has its own ways of eating which are may be different from the others.

So for our ease, the World Health Organization and the Harvard School of Public Health introduced the Mediterranean diet pyramid in 1993.

The pyramid is a general guideline towards the pattern of eating in those countries, consisting of their traditional foods.

source: Wikipedia

Is Mediterranean Diet Safe?

Yes, much research shows that this diet is undoubtedly safe and healthy to adopt.

– It reduces our risks of chronic diseases, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and inflammation of the stomach.

– The Mediterranean Diet is a piece of solid evidence that all fad diets and low-fat diets are almost useless in the long run, because they cut off your calorie intake to dangerous levels.

– This diet contains a unique and balanced combination of foods, which lets you follow a satisfying healthy lifestyle with lots of good eating habits.

Mediterranean Diet Food List

There are certain foods which this diet encourages and there are certain foods which are off the dining table.

Foods That are Not Allowed

  • Refined grains based foods like pasta cooked with white bread and wheat.
  • Oils that are refined, like canola, soybean and cottonseed oil.
  • Any sort of extra sugar should be avoided, such as ice-cream, sodas, candy, and table sugar.
  • Processed meat.
  • Trans fats.
  • Different types of margarine and foods which are processed.
  • Hot dogs cannot be taken, and processed sausages as well.

Foods that are Allowed

  • In Vegetables you can take kale, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts and onions.
  • Legumes
  • Peas, beans, lentils, peanuts, lentils, and chickpeas.
  • Fruits
  • Apples, oranges, bananas, pears, grapes, strawberries, dates, melons, figs and peaches.
  • Whole grains include
  • Corn, whole oats, buckwheat, rice but they should be brown, whole wheat, barley, bread made of whole-grains and pasta.
  • In Nuts and seeds
  • Walnuts, cashews, macadamia, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, and almonds.
  • Tubers
  • Turnips, potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes.
  • Fish and seafood
  • Trout, sardines, tuna, salmon, mackerel, oysters, shrimp, clams, mussels, and crab.
  • Eggs
  • Quail, chicken and duck eggs.
  • Poultry
  • Duck, chicken, and turkey.
  • Dairy
  • A little amount of cheese with yogurt and Greek yogurt.
  • Healthy Fats
  • Olives, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, and avocados.
  • Herbs and spices
  • Basil, nutmeg, mint, pepper, rosemary, garlic, sage and cinnamon.

Monday

– Breakfast

For the first day you can have oatmeal with strawberries and yogurt as your Mediterranean breakfast

– Lunch

Vegetables served with a whole-grain sandwich.

– Dinner

Olive oil dressing in tuna salad.

For dessert, you can eat fruits, but just a piece.

Tuesday

– Breakfast

Raisins could be taken with oatmeal.

– Lunch

Tuna salad leftovers if there are any otherwise you can choose fresh vegetables.

– Dinner

Feta cheese with tomatoes, salad and olives.

Wednesday

-Breakfast

Fruit, only one piece. Onions with tomatoes, vegetables, and omelet.

-Lunch

Fresh vegetables with cheese and whole-grain sandwich.

-Dinner

Lasagna, Mediterranean style.

Thursday

– Breakfast

Nuts with fruits and yogurt.

– Lunch

Lasagna leftovers.

– Dinner

Vegetables, with brown rice and salmon.

Friday

– Breakfast

Vegetables and eggs cooked with olive oil.

– Lunch

  Nuts with yogurt, oats and strawberries.

– Dinner

Baked potatoes with salad and grilled lamb.

Saturday

– Breakfast

An apple with oatmeal, raisins, and nuts.

– Lunch

Vegetables with whole grain sandwich.

– Dinner

Pizza in Mediterranean style, baked with whole wheat, olives, and vegetables. Top it with cheese.

Sunday

– Breakfast

Olives with omelets and vegetables.

– Lunch

  Pizza leftovers.

– Dinner

Grill some chicken with vegetables and potatoes. There is also an option for dessert in which you can have fruits.

Shopping List for the Mediterranean Diet

– Vegetables

Carrots, broccoli, onions, spinach, garlic kale.

– Legumes

Beans, lentils and pulses.

– Berries

Blueberries and strawberries.

– Frozen veggies

Choose different vegetables, but they should be healthy

-Berries

Blueberries and strawberries.

– Grains

Whole-grain pasta and bread.

– Nuts

Cashews, almonds, and walnuts.

– Condiments

Cinnamon, sea salt, turmeric, and pepper.

– Fruits

Bananas, apples, and grapes.

– Seeds

Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

– Fish

Trout, salmon, mackerel, and sardines.

– Potatoes

– Shrimp and shellfish.

– Greek yogurt

– Cheese

– Chicken

– Olives

– Omega-3 enriched eggs.

– Extra virgin olive oil

Mediterranean Diet Recipes

Here are two sample recipes:

1- Instant Caprese Avocado Toast

If you want to make your lunch, breakfast or snack time pleasurable, this recipe is all you need. It’s easy to make and fun to eat.

Cooking Time, just 5 minutes

It serves one person.

Ingredients:

– Flaxseed oil, 1-2 teaspoons

–  Low-fat cottage cheese, 1/3 cup

– Avocado, 1/2 sliced or either mashed

–  Whole-wheat toast, 1 slice

–  Tomato, just a small one

–  Sea salt, flaked

– Basil leaves for the purpose of garnishing

Instructions

Toast the bread and cover it in a sheer thin line of flax seed oil. Then make a layer of avocados that you mashed with tomatoes and cottage cheese. Embellish it with some basil leaves or sea salt.

If you want more flax seed oil, you can add a bit of it.

Just don’t overdo anything.

2- Greek Chicken Gyro Salad

This is so delicious and delightful to the taste. You can add shredded chicken, or marinated one. Whatever suits you.

This recipe is for 2 time servings.

Ingredients:

– Greek Chicken Breast sliced or either chopped, 1 to 8 ounces

– Chopped romaine lettuce, 6 cups

– Garbanzo beans drained, 1 to 15 ounces

– Sliced cucumber, 1 cup

– Cherry tomatoes sliced, 1 cup

– Avocado chopped, 1/2 cup

–  Red onion, 1/4 cups

–  Kalamata olives, 1/4 cup

– Pita bread pockets, 2 of them

– Paprika

– Canola oil spray

– Extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup

– Clove garlic peeled and minced, one

– Red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup

– Oregano, 2 tsp.

– Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, both of them 1/2 tsp

– Sugar, 1 tsp.

Homemade Tzatziki sauce for the purpose of topping.

Instructions

1- Put the lettuce into a large bowl and add the garbanzo beans, chicken, tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, red onions, and olives.

2- Then take pita bread to cut in the shape of triangles, spray some canola oil on them. 3- Add paprika on the bread and fry until it turns golden brown. You can also add kosher salt to it.

4- Dressing

To add more taste to the mix, toss some olive oil with red wine, garlic vinegar, oregano, salt, sugar, and pepper in a little jar. Shake all the ingredients well till they blend in.

5- Add sugar, salt or pepper according to your taste.

Pour all the dressing in the salad bowl.

Ready to eat.

The Bottom line

After reviewing the Mediterranean, you can see that it’s absolutely safe and healthy. It doesn’t restrict calories.

However, it requires you to be seriously patient and consistent throughout your diet to bring improvements in your life and health.

It’s not for the impulsive or inpatients one.Follow this diet according to your body requirements.

Eat good and healthy to stay healthy.

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Muhammad Usman

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