The Mediterranean diet has been a popular choice for centuries in countries all around the Mediterranean as it relies on lots of locally grown, fresh fruit and vegetables, olive oil, fresh fish and eggs. It has less emphasis on red meats and is lower in fat, cholesterol and salt compared to other Western style diets.
From country to country there are variations in which produce is eaten most frequently depending on which fruits and vegetables are grown more in that particular area. The main focus of the Mediterranean diet is on a plant based diet, however, eating freshly caught fish and seafood is also recommended at least twice a week. The Mediterranean lifestyle is relaxed, with frequent gentle exercise and outdoor based activities with regular meals shared with large family gatherings and friends.
Following a Mediterranean diet can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, helps to combat the symptoms of type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, strokes and premature death.
What Foods Should I Eat?
Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes and pulses such as beans, lentils and chickpeas, whole grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes and squashes, wholemeal breads, fresh herbs and spices, fresh fish and seafood, organic coconut oil for cooking and extra virgin olive oil for cooking and in salads.
Eat in Moderation: Poultry, free range eggs, goat’s cheese and sheep’s cheese, buffalo mozzarella and full fat Greek yogurt.
Eat less frequently: Red meats such as beef, lamb and pork.
Avoid eating and drinking: Sugar-sweetened drinks and diet sodas or any foods with added sugars. Processed meats such as hot dog sausages, cold meats like salami, bacon or processed ham, refined grains such as white wheat flour used in bread or highly processed breakfast cereals should also be avoided. Refined oils such as canola oil and soybean oil or vegetable spreads and margarines should be replaced with extra virgin olive oil. Low fat or 0% fat products such as low fat yoghurt should be replaced with organic Greek yoghurt.
What to drink on a Mediterranean diet
Water is definitely the best option. Preferably fresh filtered water or mineral water rather than tap water which contains a lot of impurities. Chilled water with some fresh lemon or lime slices is very refreshing and thirst quenching.
Red wine is also a favourite for adults following the Mediterranean diet. Incorporating a small glass of wine per day at lunch time or dinner time along with up to 2 litres of water to be drunk throughout the course of the day. Sugary drinks and sodas should be avoided at all times as they have very little benefit nutritionally and are highly calorific.