Possibly one of the diets that scientist can agree on is the Mediterranean diet. There have been numerous studies regarding the healthiness of this diet. The Mediterranean diet is based on the common characteristics of the many countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
Science has shown that people who follow the Mediterranean diet regularly have a lower incidence of heart disease, along with some cancers. Mortality rates are also lower.
The basic tenets of the Mediterranean diet are:
- low in saturated and trans fats
- little to no red meat
- high consumption of nuts
- wine consumption in low to moderate amounts
- low-fat dairy consumption
- healthy fish once or twice a week
- herbs and spices used in place of salt
- plentiful consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains (7 to 10 servings a day)
- generous consumption of nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios)
- olive oil or canola oil in place of butter or margarine
- 3 or 4 eggs per week
Fruits and vegetables make up the bulk of the diet. They are eaten in abundance, preferably 7 to 10 servings per day. It is best to eat minimally processed foods, and to purchase those within season.
As the Mediterranean diet is mostly plant-based, little to no red meat is eaten. If you do eat red meat, it's best to use lean meat and in small portions. While poultry can be substituted for red meat, eating fish once or twice a week is even better.
Healthy oils, such as olive or canola oil is a staple in the Mediterranean countries. Instead of putting butter or margarine on bread, try dipping it in olive oil.
One big factor not to be overlooked is exercise. Those living in the Mediterranean region get a high amount of exercise. Mediterranean people do a great deal of walking, visiting friends and taking leisurely strolls through the countryside. Certainly the exercise also leads to a reduction in stress, a big factor in remaining healthy.
It has been found that drinking a glass per day of wine is beneficial to health. Of course, if you think you will have trouble stopping with one glass, or have a history of alcohol in your family, it is wise to refrain.
One common factor among most Mediterranean people is the importance placed on family and friends. Having a good meal with family is a priority and this strong connection to people they care about is also a strong possible factor in their healthy lifestyles. This diet is a solid plan, based on a variety of abundant fresh foods, exercise and strong family ties. If you are seeking a long-term lifestyle plan, then this may just be the diet for you.