We could learn a lot from the way people in the Mediterranean area of the world eat, as they seem to have the least health problems overall of any country in the world.
Though there are about 16 different countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, there are many similarities in diet, which include: high olive oil consumption, high consumption of legumes, high consumption of unrefined cereals, high consumption of fruits, high consumption of vegetables, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate to high consumption of fish, low consumption of meat and meat products, and moderate wine consumption.
More than any other food ingredient, olive oil is what represents the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil has an excellent flavor and is also the most nutritious type of oil, containing a very high level of monounsaturated fats (good fat).
Here is a diagram:
The Mediterranean diet includes:
- Getting plenty of exercise daily
- Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
- Replacing butter with healthy fats like olive oil
- Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
- Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
- Eating eggs a few times a week
- Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
- Drinking red wine in moderation (optional, good for the blood)
The foods listed on the bottom of the pyramid can be consumed in greater quantities, but those higher up should be eaten more sparingly.
Researchers have found that those who followed the Mediterranean diet had a significant decrease in body weight, blood pressure, blood fats, and blood sugar and insulin levels. The list goes on to include: preventing heart and cardiovascular diseases, reducing the risk of cancer (especially breast and colon) and diabetes, reducing Hypertension, protection from Alzheimer’s disease, and has anti-inflammatory properties, and rich in anti-oxidants. Wow! Amazing isn’t it?
These health benefits contribute to a longer life expectancy than that of people who follow a Western diet.
But being on a Mediterranean Diet means not only choosing the best foods for your health, but also knowing what foods you should avoid.
Today there many artificially hydrogenated products and derivates with trans-fat that did not exist fifty or sixty years ago: especially in fast foods and junk foods (they don’t call it ” junk” for nothing!)
Try to always choose products with 0% of trans fats, which are responsible for increasing the bad cholesterol (LDL) and reducing the good one (HDL).
Notice that sweets are near the top of the pyramid, so limiting them to weekly instead of daily is best. Sugar is dangerous not only to your weight but your over all health. (see article below)
We are creatures of habit and bad habits are hard to break.
But we can be healthier with small changes, a little at a time. Once your body gets used to eating healthy it will not crave foods that are not good for it.
Did you know that food cravings are your body trying to tell you want it needs? Problem is alot of junk food is designed with protein markers, but no protein, to trick the body into thinking it is getting what it needs. Sadly they are designed that way to get you to buy more product. So we fool our body’s into thinking that bad food is good for us, and because it doesn’t get the nutrients it needs it craves more, and the cycle continues.
Try giving your body the real deal instead like fruit when it craves sugar, or nuts when it craves potato chips, and so on.
Those little changes will do a world of good for you and your family’s health and well-being.
As I said we can learn a lot from them. 🙂