Sunday, January 18, 2015

What is the Mediterranean Diet and why is a top rated diet for 2015?

As discussed in last week’s blog, the US News and World Reports ranks the best diets (Best Diets 2015).  One of the top rated diets is the Mediterranean diet.  This diet is not really a “diet” but a way of eating that is healthy overall.   So why is the Mediterranean diet so great and what is the diet?
Mediterranean diet – health benefits
  • Heart Health - This diet promotes heart health as it decreases your risk of heart disease
  • Depression – want a diet to improve your mood, this is it.
  • Dementia – want a brain healthy diet?  This is it.
  • Cancer – following the Mediterranean diet reduces your risk of cancer
  • Parkinson’s disease – the Mediterranean diet reduces one’s chances of getting Parkinson’s disease
What is the Mediterranean diet?
Focus on Fruits and Vegetables – you have heard of “5 a day”, to eat at least 5 fruits and veggies a day.  Well the Mediterranean diet steps it up  – 6 servings of fruit and vegetables a day minimum, but more is better.  Some recommend up to 10 servings a day.
Grains – focus on whole grains.  White bread can taste good but not so great for your health.  Those who are “watching their carbs” shouldn’t be watching their whole grains.  Whole grain bread is an important part of the Mediterranean diet.  Other whole grains include brown rice, buckwheat pancakes, quinoa, oats like oatmeal.  Enjoy that bowl of Cheerios or that hot bowl of oatmeal.
Nuts – Dr. Oz recommends a handful of nuts a day and nuts are important part of the Mediterranean diet.  I like the Hearth Health Nut mix but there are many mixes out there.  Look for the reduced salt varieties.  Nuts are high in calories but a handful a day is fine.
Olive Oil – this is heart healthy fat that is part of the Mediterranean diet.  The diet isn’t focused low fat but on healthier fats like olive oil.  Choose “Extra Virgin” and “virgin” olive oil as these contain more of the antioxidants that have the healthy effects.   Canola oil would also be a good choice.
Fish – the fatty fish are actually the healthier choices.  Choose mackerel, lake trout, herring sardines, albacore tuna and salmon.  Aim for fish meals at least twice a week. 
Wine – head for the red wine which has the resveratrol.  The amounts are moderate, 5 ounces a day for women and up to 10 ounces for men.
Dairy - go for low fat dairy, low fat or fat free milk, 2% fat cheeses, low fat yogurt. 
Herbs and spices – spice up your meals with herbs and spices.  Full of antioxidants but not calories.
Not sure this diet is for you?  Actually, this way of eating is healthy for most everyone.  Try parts of the diet to get started.  Buy some Extra Virgin Olive oil for cooking, for salads.   But some nuts and have a handful a day.   Buy more fresh produce and fruit and eat as a snack everyday.  Any part of this diet that you start is a start towards healthier eating and a healthier lifestyle.  

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