July 11, 2013
These days a lot of people are talking about this Mediterranean diet. So what is it and why is it so good for you? For starters its not just a diet, but a way of life. It included a diet rich in plant foods and healthy fats along with plenty of exercise and leisurely dining. These healthy habits combined together have shown to keep chronic health conditions away.
The Mediterranean is a region from the coast of Spain to the Middle East. There is no specific diet, but each location along that coast has adapted and used the foods available and cultural preferences. The foods are typically whole foods, rarely fried, and simply prepared. They usually include fresh fruits, fish, vegetables, nuts, almonds, cheeses, wines, and plenty of olive oil. The olive oil needs to be extra virgin and is high in monounsaturated fats. The typical dish only contains small amounts of saturated fats, salt, and sugar. Red meat is rarely served in this region, but red wine is usually served generously. This region also gets plenty of exercises by walking and working for the food, which is another important piece of the puzzle.
Health benefits are most dramatic when it comes to cardiovascular health. In fact the diet has been associated with benefits across the board including lower bad cholesterol, higher good cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lower incidence of diabetes.
The other factor that may be forgotten, but is very important, is the family aspect of the Mediterranean region. Sitting as a family and eating together is typical and customary in these cultures found here. Studies have shown family life also means less stress even further giving health benefits. Exposing children to a wide variety of foods at an early age can help avoid picky eating and only going to the unhealthy foods. Setting these dietary habits early in life can set a great pattern for a healthy lifestyle as children age keeping away chronic diseases.
The best part of it all is that you don't need to live along the Mediterranean coast to enjoy the benefits. All of these items are found in your local grocery store in abundant supply. Most of these foods are simple and delicious. Who doesn't enjoy a cheese and olive tray with a good red wine? You don't have to dive in and only eat food from this region day one, you can slowly start to incorporate these items into your daily lifestyle. Remember the three keys are good food, good emotional health, and good exercise.