What Can You Eat On the Mediterranean Diet?
Whenever people hear about a type of diet, they think restrictions, food choices requiring Spartan-like discipline and a lack of many options. Most of the diets are dismissed as fads and even unsustainable only formulated to lead to weight loss. If you are researching on the Mediterranean diet, then it is because you are looking for an alternative diet plan that offers all the health benefits without having to deal with the boring stuff. So naturally you ask, what can I eat on the Mediterranean diet and why is it different than other diets?
The Mediterranean diet provides this option because unlike the other kinds of diets, it is a traditional way of life of people around the Mediterranean region and it has been their choice of meal for ages making the region have some of the healthiest cities in the world.
The Mediterranean diet should not be mistaken with just about any food from the area like Italian pasta or pizzas or even the famed lamb chops from Italy. On the contrary, it’s the more traditional food leaning heavily towards vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, hearty grains, seafood, olive oil, and wine in moderation. Further, the Mediterranean diet is complemented by a lifestyle of physical activity and enjoying the meals with others, so it is not just about the food alone if you want to reap maximum gains. However, knowing which foods to eat and which ones to avoid is the right place to start.
What to Eat in General
Olive Oil and Healthy Fats
Olive oil is the primary fast source used especially in its virgin and extra virgin forms which are the least processed forms. In this form, it also contains high antioxidant compounds. Other mono-unsaturated fats and healthy fats you can use include canola oil, and oil made from nuts without plenty of processing. These oils are rich in linolenic acid which is an omega-three fatty acid and is useful in keeping your cardiovascular system healthy. Olive oil is multi-functional giving you a range of places you can use it from frying to dressing up desserts.
Vegetables and Fruits
Vegetables and fruits add color and taste to the Mediterranean diet. Meals are colorful with green, purple and other shades of leafy vegetables and the desserts sumptuous with fruit content. You do not have to create five-course meals, snack more on fruits and integrate plants in your smoothies and other snacks. Berries can be used to replace sweet spreading like margarine. As you shop stack up on items like kale, carrots, spinach, broccoli, onions, garlic and spices as well as bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, etc.
Nuts are another fixture of this diet even with their high-fat content. Their fat is healthy, and they have other nutrients including minerals and fiber. They are an excellent replacement for processed snacks which are usually salted and lacking in any healthy calories. If you are looking to cut down your weight, you may have to use nuts in moderation. Almonds, cashew nuts, peanuts, and pistachios should be included in your shopping.
Eat More Fish
Fish are another source of healthy fats and proteins in your diet. The most popular options here are salmon, mackerel and sardines. You can also eat leaner fish like Tilapia and codfish. Fish provide omega-three fatty acids which is necessary for the heart and brain health.
Consume Whole Grains and Beans
Whole grains are those that have not yet been refined. This aspect makes them rich in fiber and Vitamins B. They also contain other minerals like selenium and magnesium. Their rich dietary fiber content is helpful in digestion while they also regulate fat and redistribute sugar among other benefits. Sorghum, quinoa, barley, oats, corn, teff, and bulgur should be embraced in your meals from baking to soup making. Beans, on the other hand, are another rich source of proteins texture and taste in the diet. Lentils, fava beans, chickpeas, red beans, black beans, black-eyed peas and more should help you make great recipes.
A glass of wine or two for men should help wash down your meals especially since most require to be done in a social occasion. When taken in moderation wine has a substantial benefit to the health of the heart, and it is also rich in antioxidants.
What to Exclude in Your Mediterranean Diet
The healthy foods of a Mediterranean diet have to replace a number of the items on your plate, fridge and shopping list. The next question that we normally get is, what can’t you eat on the Mediterranean diet? The foods that go out in the diet are;
- Hard liquor
- Processed meat
- Hydrogenated oils
- Processed grains like white rice
- Junk snacks
The change to a Mediterranean diet is gradual. Keep on swapping one food item for another and create weal meal plans. You will need to create time for cooking and embrace the idea of eating with company.