Interest in the Mediterranean diet began way back in 1950 when it was noted that heart disease was not as common in Mediterranean countries (which include countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea like Greece, Italy, France and Spain) as it was in the United States. (Source)
Since then, a lot of studies have been carried out on it which have confirmed the efficacy of this dietary pattern in preventing to the barest minimum the incidence of heart diseases and stroke. (Source)
Furthermore, numerous studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet can promote weight loss and help prevent heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes and premature death. (Source)
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is typically based on the traditional foods eaten by people bordering the Mediterranean Sea and was notably found to be a healthy diet habit due to the improved quality of life of these people.
No food is banned, but it encourages eating in minute quantities red meat and other processed or sugary foods. (Source)
The people around these regions, mostly feed on plant-based foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices. Olive oil is the main source of added fat. (Source)
In addition, fish, seafood, dairy and poultry are included in moderation.
Foods to eat on a Mediterranean Diet
To begin, it was earlier established that the Mediterranean diet is a dietary pattern. Therefore, there are no stringent rules you must abide by. The goal is to eat healthy food to stay healthy and well.
However, the Mediterranean diet supports eating some kinds of foods more than others. But this also varies from one country to the other. (Source)
The foods you should eat on a Mediterranean diet ideally include:
1. Vegetables: tomatoes, broccoli, Kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussel sprouts, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and turnips.
2. Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, and peaches.
3. Legumes: beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas
4. Whole grains: Oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat bread and pasta.
5. Fish and seafood: salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, and mussels.
6. Poultry: Chicken, duck, turkey
7. Eggs: chicken, quail and duck eggs
8. Dairy: cheese, yoghurt, milk
9. Herbs and spices: garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper
10. Healthy fats: Extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados and avocado oil.
11. Beverages: Water is highly recommended but coffee and tea are also very healthy beverages too. But, limit added sugar and cream.
Are eggs healthy for weight loss?
Before going any further, there is a high possibility that you have been told that eggs are not healthy foods because of their high cholesterol content.
However, that has been disproved as studies have shown that the cholesterol contained in eggs is the good cholesterol (there are bad ones too) which helps to protect one from heart diseases such as heart attack and stroke. (Source)
It is well-recommended for weight loss due to its high protein value. This is because studies have shown that proteins are by far the most satiating macronutrient. (Source)
Eggs are highly satiating and may reduce calorie intake later in the day. Regularly eating eggs may promote weight loss.
Research has also shown that eating up to three whole eggs daily is good and could be taken as breakfast.
Unless there is a genetic disorder related to egg consumption, eggs are very healthy food as they contain abundant nutrients, including calories in them.
Read more about the health benefits of eggs.
Foods to limit when on a Mediterranean diet
1. Added sugar: This is particularly found in many foods but higher in soda, candies, ice cream, table sugar, syrup and baked goods
2. Refined grains: white bread, pasta, tortillas, chips, crackers.
3. Trans fats: Found in margarine, fried foods and other processed foods
4. Refined oils: soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, grapeseed oil
5. Processed meat: processed sausages, hot dogs, deli meats, beef jerky
6. Highly processed foods: fast food, convenience meals, microwave popcorn, granola bars. (Source)
Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
There are a lot of health benefits apart from weight loss associated with the Mediterranean diet. Amongst them are:
1. It promotes heart health, guides against heart diseases and stroke
2. It supports healthy blood sugar levels
3. It protects brain function
How to start the Mediterranean diet
1. Start by incorporating foods listed as part of the diet if you haven’t done this before.
2. Eat more vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil.
3. Eat moderately, poultry, eggs, cheese and yoghurt.
4. Eat rarely, red meat, sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods. (Source)
Is the Mediterranean Diet a Healthy Diet?
The obvious answer is yes, and you would also agree to the same based on all that has been said concerning this special diet.
Just as was aforementioned in our previous article, the best diet for weight loss, the Mediterranean diet may not be the best diet for everyone.
However, the Mediterranean diet remains a healthy diet and incorporating it into your daily dietary plan, provides all the necessary nutrients needed to stay healthy and have improved quality of life.