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The Mediterranean way of life has a romantic feel to it. But beyond this lovely notion of an unhurried coastal lifestyle, there is traditional diet with health benefits that are the real deal. Eating the Mediterranean way is essentially going back to the basics — real food, real simple. The basis of a Mediterranean diet centers on several healthy principles, mainly that the diet is largely plant-based. The delicious taste of Mediterranean food comes from flavor, not fat, with the liberal use of herbs and spices. There is also a focus on consuming lean protein, usually from fish, some from poultry and low-fat dairy, and the occasional red meat. Besides knowing the basics of Mediterranean cuisine, it’s important to recognize why this way of eating has gained popularity. There are actually more reasons to consider eating the Mediterranean way besides the delicious, fresh food. Read on to learn more about the benefits of adopting these eating habits.
#1 Well-Balanced: The Mediterranean way of eating encourages the intake of a variety of fresh, non-processed foods. Besides the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, other sources of nutrients come from fish, nuts, and olive oil. Limiting alcohol and high-sugared food is encouraged, with dessert usually being fruit based. Although a glass of red wine with dinner is actually considered beneficial!
#2. Encourages Portion Control: Instead of filling half of your plate with meat, the Mediterranean way of eating encourages filling the majority of your plate with vegetables. Pasta and starches are treated like a side dish, with only ½ cup to 1 cup serving size. Meat is also a small portion size, like a side dish or a topping to a salad.
#3. Health Benefits: Eating the Mediterranean way is a great choice for anyone wanting to eat healthier or lose weight, but it’s also an excellent diet for people with health concerns. This way of eating reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and other disease’s such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s by limiting refined breads, processed foods and red meat, and increasing fiber intake and foods rich in anti-oxidants. This diet slows digestion, and can improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
#4. Increase Your Life Span: When one follows the Mediterranean diet, there is a 20% reduced risk of death at any age. By making these changes to your diet, you are reducing your chances of developing heart disease or cancer. The nutrients from this way of eating also keep senior citizens more agile, with fewer issues from muscle weakness and overall frailty.
#5. It’s A Family Affair: The idea of slowing down, getting involved in the kitchen, and getting back in touch with food and family is the essence of the traditional Mediterranean way of life. Cooking, eating and cleaning up afterwards are all a part of the experience meant to be shared with family and friends. This can do wonders for emotional and mental health, taking our minds off the demands of our jobs and stress in our lives.
Eating the Mediterranean way is basically healthy for everyone, not just those with certain medical conditions or concerns. Take a minute to examine the way you eat. Maybe it’s time for a healthy — and delicious — change! So go ahead, eat the Mediterranean way! Or as they say in Italian, Mangia!