Mediterranean Diet (MD for short) is balanced form of nutrition that provides many benefits for those who follow it. MD is based on foods locally grown, farmed, caught or found in area around Mediterranean Sea. Unlike low-fat or low-carbs diets, macronutrients in MD are balanced and they come from variety of sources.
Meals are prepared using small amounts of olive oil and local herbs and spices. Such meals are usually large in volume and relatively low in calories, with great taste and aroma, which leads to one of the MD problems, portion control, which is absolutely needed in order to keep calories in check.
Carbohydrates are mostly complex and they come from whole grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, green and leafy vegetables and fruits.
One must take a note that centuries, even decades ago, average person worked physically for 8-10, even more, hours per day and most of the calories that came from carbohydrates were burned off through physical activity.
If you are not physically active, feel free to consume whole grains, legumes and starchy vegetables, just be sure about your daily carbohydrate intake. Green and leafy vegetables can be consumed as one pleases, they are low in carbohydrates, but rich in minerals, vitamins and digestive fibers and they often provide less energy to the body than they require for digestion.
Fruits are often considered as dessert on the mediterranean diet and with good reason, for example, combine wild strawberries, blueberries, apricots with few drops of lemon juice and just a teaspoon of honey in a fruit salad and enjoy it. Such salads are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
If you have slow metabolism and sitting job, don’t avoid the fruits, just eat your fruits in moderation. After all, instead of having few ordinary bananas (rich in potassium, but also in carbohydrates), eat few tablespoons of blackberries and similar fruits loaded with healthy micronutrients and fibers.
Good Fats in Your Mediterranean Diet
In The Mediterranean Diet fats come from butter, cheese, organic eggs, olive oil, fish oil, various nuts, whole fat milk and similar foods.
Dairy products come from animals like cows, sheep and goats that graze grass and small bushes, such products contain much more minerals, vitamins and healthy fats than dairy product from cattle that are fed mostly by soy and corn.
Red meat is eaten rarely, once or twice per month. It is rich in protein, some vitamins and minerals, but also often in saturated fats. Note that saturated fats are also important for human health, but they are present almost everywhere.
Daily intake of unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats should be increased through the consumption of olive oil (contains NO omega-3, but it is great source of omega-6 and omega-9), fish oils, fish, organic eggs and various nuts.
Poultry is consumed several times per week and it represents great source of animal protein and some fats. Omega-3 (organic) eggs are great source of healthy fats with very good LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol) ratio, they are rich in vitamin A and iron.
Even so, due to their fat content, it is not recommended to eat more than one or two whole eggs per day. Sweets are consumed rarely, once or twice per month and even then they are based on honey, nuts, organic eggs and whole grain flour.
Fish and Sea Foods
Fish and rest of sea food are consumed often, sometimes even few times per day. Of course, amounts are moderate, especially when predatory species are consumed.
Tuna and swordfish are on top of the sea food chain and although they are delicacy, their consumption should be limited due to mercury, cadmium and other pollutants present in their flesh in significant amounts.
According to the data regularly published by US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), such predatory species have 10 to 20 times more mercury than for example ordinary sardines.
Tuna is obviously great, but sardines rules 🙂 Not to mention difference in price! Fish, mussels, prawns and similar sea food are rich in omega-3 and other healthy fats, fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E), some water-soluble vitamins, minerals and animal protein.
Fruits and Vegetables
Berries, citrus fruits, green and leafy vegetables are rich in vitamin C and other vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibers. Such foods combined with complex carbs provide human body with energy for daily activities, stimulate immune, digestive and other systems and lead to overall improved health and wellbeing.
One just has to be aware of possible pollutants in predatory species and to keep carbohydrates in check, according to individual needs. In the long run, slow but steady weight loss is possible, even recommended, when The Mediterranean Diet is combined with Carbohydrate Cycling Diet, fats and proteins are consumed according to one’s needs, but carbohydrates are consumed according to one’s physical activity. But that is another story …
Author Bio: Patrick Mayer is strength coach and sport nutritionist specialized in training and nutrition of both beginners and advanced trainees. For staying fit and healthy, he highly recommends physical activity with or without exercise equipment, proper nutrition and enough sleep and rests. For more about quick and healthy recipes, menu samples, supplement reviews and general health and fitness articles, feel free to click here.
Links for further research on this topic: – US Food and Drug Administration – NRDC – Natural Resources Defense Council – netrition – Food Nutrients – ex pubmed.gov – and of course, our Become and Stay Fit 🙂