What is the healthiest diet in the world? What is the best diet for 2021? These are the questions we ask ourselves before going on a diet. right? We all do.
A few Days back, If someone had asked me - what is the number 1 best diet, I would have probably answered vegan or keto diets. While these diets are popular on the internet, in real life that's not the case. Not that they are bad, but, just not the best!
The number one rated diet is actually the one you would least expect. We'll still give you one chance to guess it...
Here's a hint: this diet is based on a popular destination for many of us. Still can't guess it? It's the Mediterranean diet!
The Mediterranean diet has stopped us all in our tracks and has taken the world by surprise. Here is all that you need to know about the Mediterranean diet. Before we begin take a look at one Mediterranean recipe - Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Chickpeas
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The origins of the Mediterranean diet go all the way back to the 1950s. Researchers of that time observed that people of Mediterranean countries like Italy and Greece had much lower rates of obesity, heart disease, and stroke when compared to the Americans.
The reason for this was found to be their Mediterranean diet, which consisted of local vegetables, fruits, seafood, olive oil, and a minimum amount of meat.
In simple words, the secret of health success behind a Mediterranean diet is fresh and wholesome ingredients.
Unlike many other diet plans, the Mediterranean diet is not dependent on what you eat.
It also asks for a physical lifestyle and social interaction. In many Mediterranean countries sharing your meals is still a norm, along with having a more active lifestyle.
Not only does this promote physical health but mental health as well. This holistic approach to healthy living makes the Mediterranean diet stand out from the rest, and is also the favorite diet plan of many.
What Mediterranean diet consists of
We have good news for all the meat lovers who want to try this diet. The Mediterranean diet allows for meat products!
But before you get too happy, you need to reduce your regular meat intake considerably when going by this diet. That means no more bacon for breakfast every day. But that's about the meat. Let's see what next you should eat on a Mediterranean diet and how much!
- The mediterranean diet is about plant-based foods. While not as extreme as a vegan diet in this aspect, it does encourage inclusion of: (1) vegetables; (2) fruits; (3) nuts & seeds; (4) whole grains. This makes Mediterranean diet among the most calorie friendly diets.
- All food in the Mediterranean diet is cooked in olive oil which is said to be the best cooking oil in both taste and health.
- Spices are used mildly when cooking according to a Mediterranean diet. Instead people rely on herbs for flavor. This helps keep your digestive system healthy as excess of spice can cause digestive problems like ulcers.
- Poultry products like chicken and eggs are allowed but only in moderation. Same with dairy products like cheese and yogurt as well. This is because of the high calorie nature of these food items. By limiting them to moderate amounts, you can get the best out of them without affecting your health.
- Red meat products are permissible in the Mediterranean diet but only in small amounts. So if you are following a Mediterranean diet consider limiting your steak night only once a week. Red meat is considered to have more cons than pros when it comes to health, so by limiting it to a minimum you can keep yourself healthy.
- Now here comes the tough part. Under the Mediterranean diet you absolutely cannot have: (1) added sugars; (2) processed food; (3) refined oil and grains. We don't need to tell you that these foods are not exactly healthy, which is why even if you don't follow the Mediterranean diet, you should at the least reduce their intake in your daily lives.
Health benefits of Mediterranean Diet
With a spotlight on plant-based foods and exclusion of sugars and processed food, it is obvious that the Mediterranean diet would have a lot of health benefits for you. Of course, you would have to give up on your sugary beverages and bacon strips, but with all the health benefits the Mediterranean diet comes with, we say it's totally worth it!
When you follow, Mediterranean diet you would have to limit processed foods, red meat, and refined food items in your daily life. This would result in good heart health and avoid the risk of stroke.
The Mediterranean diet is all about healthy calories and proteins. This would help older adults avoid muscle weakness and even keep them young for a longer time!
Because of its healthy plant-based ingredients, a Mediterranean diet can help you lower cholesterol and sugar levels. In the future can significantly reduce the risk of having Alzheimer's disease and even dementia.
Mediterranean diet consists of foods that are high in antioxidants, such as olives. Studies have shown that having foods with high antioxidants will reduce oxidative stress, which can prevent even Parkinson's disease in the distant future.
Mediterranean diet limits added sugar and are high in fiber. Such a diet plan keeps the blood sugar level low, keeping you away from any risk of developing diabetes and obesity.
The Mediterranean diet encourages healthy eating and an active lifestyle, which will keep you away not only from physical diseases but also keep mentally happy. Studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet can raise your lifespan by 20%.
Tips on getting started
Old habits die hard and this is especially true for old eating habits. It's not easy to just give up on your old breakfasts and dinners, we understand. But it's also not impossible at the same time! With just a bit of determination and guidance, you can ease into the Mediterranean diet and make it your new part of life!
Start with more vegetables in your diet. You can start with salads and soups. Start including more vegetable-based side dishes in your meals. Remember, the goal here is to reduce your meat intake while increasing how much vegetables you eat.
Never skip breakfast. Having a healthy breakfast is an important part of the Mediterranean diet. It will not only give you the perfect start but also keep you full for the rest of the day. Make sure that your breakfast includes high-fiber foods and fresh fruits. Avoid fatty foods like pancakes and bacon as they will just keep you drowsy for the rest of the day.
Replace your regular cooking oil with olive oil. No Mediterranean diet is complete without this healthy oil!
If you are craving dessert choose fresh fruits. Similarly, if you want a quick snack for a handful of nuts instead of your regular chips. Read more: What are some good snacks to keep in the house?
Dairy products contain a substantial amount of saturated fats, which is why it is best to have them in moderation. You should also make sure that the dairy products you use are unprocessed and freshly made. Nothing can be worse for your health than a slice of processed cheese or sweetened yogurt. Instead, replace these dairy foods with healthier options like Greek yogurt.
Make your meal times as social as possible. You can do this by doing family dinners or having lunch with colleagues at your workplace. Just switch off your phone and relieve your stress by connecting with people.
Don't miss this:
It is said that you become what you eat. Which makes having a planned out healthy diet even more important. But not everyone can afford or maintain glitzy vegan or keto diets. This is what makes the Mediterranean diet so popular among everyone. Not only is it very accessible and affordable, but it is also very easy to keep with all its delicious food options! If you are looking for a diet plan that is not too fussy and difficult to keep, the Mediterranean diet is definitely for you!