Power to the Mediterranean

mediterranean_dietIf the “diet awards” existed, the number one contender on every health professional’s list would be the Mediterranean diet. This traditional style of eating of countries bordering the Mediterranean has been the subject of intensive research for over 40 years where evidence of its health benefits is compelling and undeniable.

As many health experts would say, the beauty of the Mediterranean diet is that it is not based on one particular food, nutrient or miraculous fad, but on a whole dietary pattern. Important features of the diet include the following:

  • High consumption of grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts, which are the base of every meal.
  • Olive oil and olives are the main source of fat.
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt for flavouring
  • Fish and shellfish are essential sources of protein where varieties such as herring, tuna, sardines, mussels, bream are consumed regularly.
  • Red meat is consumed in small portions and not as often as seafood.
  • Foods such as yoghurt, cheese and eggs are consumed in low to moderate amounts daily or weekly.
  • Wine is consumed often but in small amounts.
  • Moderation is key.
  • Physical activity is part of everyday life
  • Meals are enjoyed in the company of family and friends.

the-mediterranean-diet-a-olive-oil-2There is overwhelming evidence that the Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of heart disease and diabetes as well as the risk of strokes, increases your life span and protects against dementia and Parkinson’s disease. The benefit of such a diet is owed to its ability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress (i.e. damage to your cells), which are known to be the cause of common chronic diseases. Components of the diet provide our bodies with fibre, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, which create an excellent base for protection against disease.

So how can you apply this brilliant dietary pattern to your everyday life? Here’s a shopping list to kick start your way to the Mediterranean:

  • Fruits: Berries, cherries, figs, grapes, melons, peaches, pears, pomegranate, bananas, nectarines
  • Vegetables: Asparagus, beetroot, olives, onions, peas, carrots, celery, artichokes, capsicum, eggplant, fennel, lettuce, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes, radishes, mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, green beans
  • Grains: Brown rice, barley, bulgur, polenta, oats, pasta, buckwheat
  • Nuts, Seeds & Legumes: Chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, pine nuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, sunflower seeds, walnuts
  • Herbs and Spices: Basil, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, mint, oregano, parsley, pepper, nutmeg, fennel seeds, rosemary, thyme, sage
  • Dairy: Low fat milk, yoghurts and cheese
  • Fish & Shellfish: Salmon, herring, clams, mussels, shrimp, sole, bream, tuna, trout
  • Fats: Olive oil, sesame and canola oils

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Never underestimate the power of natural foods and your bodies will be thankful.

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