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8 Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, Good Example of Healthy Balanced Diet

Surely you have heard about the many benefits of the Mediterranean diet for health. Well, more than a diet, it’s a very healthy lifestyle, and today I’ll tell you what it is for you to know and you can put it into practice if you decide.

If you want to know what is the Mediterranean diet and 8 of its main benefits, do not miss this article

What is the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet is more than a diet, a healthy lifestyle, that combines food in a healthy and balanced way so that the needs of your body are covered and your health benefits from all its properties.

The origin of this diet is based on the eating behaviors that occurred in this region and that back in the 60s of the last century presented one of the highest life expectancies in the world, accompanied by low rates of heart disease as well as other pathologies with respect to other areas of the planet.

At that time, the diet was based on the consumption of fruits, vegetables, cereals, potatoes, legumes, nuts and seeds in large quantities, the use of olive oil as the main source of fat, the consumption of dairy products such as cheese and yogurt daily, moderate consumption of fish and poultry, as well as eggs, and the occasional consumption of red meat. Although it has changed a bit over these years, in essence it continues to be based on these guidelines, and represents a valuable cultural heritage that reflects a healthy lifestyle.

mediterranean_diet

Surely you have heard about the many benefits of the Mediterranean diet for health. Well, more than a diet, it’s a very healthy lifestyle, and today I’ll tell you what it is for you to know and you can put it into practice if you decide.

What is the Mediterranean diet?

To understand it in an easy and intuitive way, it is usually represented with a food pyramid that places at the base the foods on which the diet should be based, where the strata are broader, and relegates to higher positions, which are more graphically narrow, the foods that should be consumed in moderation. It is not only a question of giving priority to a certain type of food, but rather to the way of combining them, cooking them and consuming them, as you can see in the following pyramid:

Starting from the base, you have to include one or two servings per meal of carbohydrates in the form of bread, pasta, rice or couscous, for example, giving priority to those that are comprehensive, since the more refined they are, the more they can lose some very valuable nutrients for the organism such as magnesium or phosphorus. In addition, in the integral version, these carbohydrates will provide you with more fiber of slow absorption, very beneficial for your body.

In the second stratum of the pyramid are fruits and vegetables, which should be present in all the main meals, including two or three servings in each main meal.

In third place we have the stratum formed by products such as olive oil, which should be used every day to cook or flavor your dishes, nuts, which you can take daily in moderation as a very healthy snack, and spices to cook, with all kinds of aromatic herbs such as basil, thyme, oregano, parsley and even garlic, which in addition to providing flavor to your dishes, will help you avoid abusing salt.

In this same stratum, although to a lesser extent, there are legumes, which can provide you with quality proteins necessary for the functions of your organism. In this case, it is convenient to include one or two servings a week, which you can perfectly accompany with vegetables, and even with some meat or fish.

In the fourth step or stratum, there are dairy products, such as yogurt or cheese, from which you can take one or two servings a day.

Subsequently you will find fish, preferably blue, from which you should take at least two or three servings a week. The same goes for lean meats, such as chicken or turkey, which you can include between two and three servings a week.

In the last place would be the red meats, from which you should reduce your consumption to a ration a week at the most, and the sweets and pastries, whose consumption you should restrict to special occasions.

In addition to drinking water in the amount that your body needs, you can complete the contribution of liquid infusions of herbs and broths low in fat and salt.

Ten keys to understand and follow the Mediterranean diet better

So you can better follow this diet, do not forget this decalogue:

1. Use olive oil for cooking
One of the things that characterizes the Mediterranean diet is the use of olive oil for cooking and as an accompaniment to dressings for salads. And is that this oil that is obtained from olives contains many health benefits and your body, as we have told you in this other article, among which we can highlight its high content of antioxidants and its cardio-healthy effect, among others.

Its use has lasted for centuries, since it was used from ancient civilizations such as the Greek and Roman, and its use has been maintained throughout this time to preserve food and cooking giving the dishes a unique flavor and aroma.

This diet is intended to replace other types of fats such as butter or margarine for cooking, or even other types of fats or oils, even vegetables, for this much healthier alternative to your body.

2. Eat plenty of plant-based foods
Fruits, vegetables and greens are a good source of vitamins, minerals and fiber in your diet, which will also provide you with a large amount of water. Ideally, consume 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, which you can include in your main meals as an accompaniment to the main dishes in the case of vegetables and as a dessert or snack between meals in the case of fruits. Thanks to its antioxidant and fiber content, they can help you prevent various diseases, such as constipation, some cardiovascular diseases and even some types of cancer.

Other good foods of vegetable origin are legumes and nuts, which you can also take frequently.

3. Include bread and cereal-derived foods in your daily diet
Products from cereals, such as bread, pasta or rice, should be consumed daily, especially if you choose them in their full versions.

Thanks to its composition rich in carbohydrates, they provide you with a very important part of the energy you need for your daily activities, so not only do you not have to remove them from your diet, but you must include one or two servings in your daily meals. It can be in the form of bread, rice, couscous or pasta, to give an example.

4. Consume foods as fresh as possible and without processing too much
Fresh seasonal foods are the most appropriate to eat in each season of the year, and you should consume them preferably as less cooked as possible. You can use styles of cooking dishes such as iron, steamed or raw if it is a vegetable that can be consumed as well, to ensure that you keep the maximum of vitamins and nutrients from food.

5. Includes dairy products daily
Dairy products, such as yogurt and cheeses, are a great source of protein of high biological value, in addition to containing minerals as necessary as calcium and phosphorus and vitamins necessary for the proper functioning of your body. In addition, consuming fermented milk, as in the case of yogurt, involves associated a series of health benefits, since these products have living microorganisms that improve the balance of your intestinal flora.

Therefore, you can enter one or two servings a day of dairy products such as yogurt, milk or cheese.

6. Consumes meat in moderation
Too high a consumption of animal fats is not good for health, therefore, it is preferable that you reduce the amount you consume to small amounts, that you opt for lean meats such as chicken or turkey compared to other meats with more fats and that form part of a plate accompanied by vegetables and / or cereals.

Although red meat can not be totally dispensed with, the ideal is to reduce its consumption, at the most, to one or two servings a week, and to take it inside other stews and recipes.

7. Eat fish in abundance and eggs in moderation
Another key to the Mediterranean diet is the consumption of fish and especially blue fish, rich in omega-3, a fat that is attributed protective properties against cardiovascular diseases. Examples of this type of fish with heart-healthy properties are sardines, anchovies, salmon, mackerel, tuna or turbot, among others. To cook without adding too much fat to your dishes, you can make them grilled, baked or grilled, among many other options. You must consume at least two or three times a week this type of fish to benefit from all its good properties.

Eggs are also a good source of quality protein for your body, as well as fats, vitamins and minerals that make this food a very complete bet for your body. You must consume between three and four eggs as an alternative to meat and fish.

8. Take a lot of fresh fruit daily
The fruit, especially if it is fresh, is a very nutritious food that gives you a good amount of minerals and vitamins at the same time it has a delicious flavor.

In the Mediterranean diet, the ideal is to take one or two pieces of fresh fruit in the main meals as dessert, dispensing with sweets and cakes, which should be relegated to a very occasional or practically nil consumption.

They are also a good alternative to take mid-morning or as a snack, since they will provide you with the vitamins and minerals that your body needs plus that extra energy you may need between main meals. Also, do not forget your contribution in water and fiber, so necessary for your body.

9. Drink lots of water
The main drink of this diet is water, both to accompany the main dishes and to drink at any time. Although you can take all kinds of natural juices, it is not advisable to drink soft drinks, because of its high content of added sugar and empty calories that do not contribute anything.

As wine is a typical drink of the Mediterranean region, you can take it in moderation and it may even be beneficial, according to some studies, to have a glass or two a day.

10. Remember to accompany your moderate exercise diet
To complete this diet and make it a healthy lifestyle, do not forget to exercise moderately daily. The sedentary lifestyle does not mean anything good, except for physical reasons you have no choice, so if it is possible, do not forget to exercise moderately daily, according to your physical abilities, without the need to reach exhaustion.

What benefits does the Mediterranean diet bring to your body?

We have reached the point of most interest of this diet and is to know the benefits that this diet can bring against other types of diet or eating patterns. Here are the most important:

1. It is a heart-healthy diet
I’ve already overtaken you at the beginning, and I will not tire of repeating it. The consumption of olive oil with its cardioprotective properties in substitution of other more saturated fats for cooking, the low consumption of red meat and the consumption of blue fish rich in omega-3 gives this diet a protective nature of health, reducing the risk of cardiovascular accidents such as heart attacks or sclerosis.

2. Help prevent certain diseases
The high consumption of fruits and vegetables makes this diet very rich in antioxidants and fiber, which will help you avoid the oxidation of the cells produced by the passage of time, thus preventing the appearance of certain types of diseases and even some types Of cancer.

3. Reduce cholesterol
The healthy fats that contain olive oil, blue fish and some nuts, along with the low consumption of red meat, allows your body to increase the levels of good cholesterol by providing a better level of total cholesterol.

4. It helps you to maintain your ideal weight
By consuming large amounts of fruits and vegetables that provide plant-derived proteins and healthy fats such as blue fish, this diet will help you to maintain your ideal weight, thus avoiding problems such as overweight.

5. It’s good for memory
Some foods that enhance memory and are part of the Mediterranean diet are nuts (with omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids), blue fish (in addition to omega 3, contains many vitamins and minerals), fruits and vegetables (especially green leafy ones that provide vitamin C and many antioxidants), so they make this diet a good ally to regenerate the mind and improve cognitive function, avoiding or delaying problems of deterioration that can appear with age as It can be Alzheimer’s.

6. Reduce the risk of diabetes
The high fruit and vegetable content of this diet allows your body a better control of blood glucose levels, thus reducing the risk of diseases such as diabetes.

7. Encourages intestinal transit
The high fiber content contained in fruits and vegetables brings a lot of fiber to your body, so, with the right amount of water, it favors intestinal transit, improving problems such as constipation.

8. Reduces the risk of bone fractures
The fact of being associated with low rates of overweight and thanks to the inclusion of one or two servings of dairy per day, ensures the supply of calcium that your bones need to be healthy, thus avoiding an increased risk of bone fractures.

Some nuts, such as almonds or hazelnuts, also give you a significant amount of calcium, so if you follow this diet correctly, you will have your needs covered.

Do you want to add something more?
Surely now that you know better what this diet or way of life consists of, you will like to adopt it as a habit of healthy life and benefit from its properties. But as always, I wait for your comments. Do you want to add something more?

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