Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Top 10 Reasons to Love the Mediterranean Diet

1. Surprise! No Calorie Counting

You won't need a calculator for this meal plan. Instead of adding up numbers, you swap out bad fats for heart-healthy ones. Go for olive oil instead of butter. Try fish or poultry rather than red meat. Enjoy fresh fruit and skip sugary, fancy desserts.

Eat your fill of flavorful veggies and beans. Nuts are good, but stick to a handful a day. You can have whole-grain bread and wine, but in moderate amounts. 


2. The Food Is Really Fresh

You won't need to roam the frozen food aisle or hit a fast-food drive-thru. The focus is on seasonal food that's made in simple, mouth-watering ways. Build a yummy salad from spinach, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Add classic Greek ingredients like black olives and feta cheese with a Quick Light Greek Salad recipe. You can also whip up a colorful, veggie-filled batch of Grilled Tomato Gazpacho.

3. You Can Have Bread

Look for a loaf made with whole grains. It's got more protein and minerals and is generally healthier than the white flour kind. Try whole-grain pita bread dipped in olive oil, hummus, or tannin (a protein-rich paste made from ground sesame seeds).

4. Fat Isn't Forbidden

You just need to look for the good kind. You'll find it in nuts, olives, and olive oil. These fats (not the saturated and trans fat hidden in processed foods) add flavor and help fight diseases from diabetes to cancer. Basic Basil Pesto is a tasty way to get some into your diet.

5. The Menu Is Huge

It's more than just Greek and Italian cuisine. Look for recipes from Spain, Turkey, Morocco, and other countries. Choose foods that stick to the basics: light on red meat and whole-fat dairy, with lots of fresh fruits and veggies, olive oil, and whole grains. This Moroccan recipe with chickpeas, okra, and spices fits the healthy Mediterranean profile.

6. The Spices Are Delicious

Bay leaves, cilantro, coriander, rosemary, garlic, pepper, and cinnamon add so much flavor you won't need to reach for the salt shaker. Some have health benefits, too. Coriander and rosemary, for example, have disease-fighting antioxidants and nutrients. This recipe for Greek-Style Mushrooms uses cilantro and coriander and has a lemony kick. 

7. It's Easy to Make

Greek meals are often small, easy to assemble plates called mezzes. For your own serve-it-cold casual meal, you could put out plates of cheese, olives, and nuts. Also check out these recipes for Basil Quinoa With Red Bell Pepper and Eight Layered Greek Dip. Both have heart-friendly ingredients including olive oil, beans, whole grains, and spices.

8. You Can Have Wine

A glass with meals is common in many Mediterranean countries, where dining is often leisurely and social. Some studies suggest that for some people, up to one glass a day for women and two for men may be good for your heart. Red wine may be healthier than white. Check with your doctor to see if it's a good idea for you.

9. You Won't Be Hungry

You'll get a chance to eat rich-tasting foods like roasted sweet potatoes, hummus, and even this Lima Bean Spread. You digest them slowly so that you feel full longer. Hunger's not a problem when you can munch on nuts, olives, or bites of low-fat cheese when a craving strikes. Feta and thallium are lower in fat than cheddar but still rich and tasty.

10. You Can Lose Weight

You'd think it would take a miracle to drop some pounds if you eat nuts, cheese, and oils. But those Mediterranean basics (and the slower eating style) let you feel full and satisfied. And that helps you stick to a diet. Regular exercise is also an important part of the lifestyle.

11. Your Heart Will Thank You

Almost everything in this diet is good for your heart. Olive oil and nuts help lower "bad" cholesterol. Fruits, veggies, and beans help keep arteries clear. Fish helps lower triglycerides and blood pressure. Even a daily glass of wine may be good for your heart! If you've never fallen in love with fish, try this Mediterranean-inspired recipe for Grilled Whole Trout With Lemon-Tarragon Bean Salad.

12. You'll Stay Sharper Longer

The same goodness that protects your heart is also good for your brain. You're not eating bad fats and processed foods, which can cause inflammation. Instead, antioxidant-rich foods make this eating style a brain-friendly choice.

 At Oldways, we have long been enamored with Mediterranean cuisine. In celebration of International Mediterranean Diet Month this May—and in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid!—we’re sharing a few reasons why this eating pattern and lifestyle continues to come highly recommended by chefs and doctors alike. 

To find out the three good reasons to love the Mediterranean Diet, check out our brand new infographic below (and make sure to share with your friends)! Here at Oldways, we’re excited to continue to spread the word about this healthy and nutritious lifestyle. Join us in sharing health through heritage! 

Good for People

Hardly a week goes by without researchers documenting another health benefit associated with the Mediterranean Diet. Longer lives, lower risks of heart disease in diabetes, and healthier brains and bodies during aging are just a few of the health benefits ascribed to this time-tested eating pattern.

Better yet, the foods and flavors make the Mediterranean Diet a craveable cuisine, full of color and variety. People in the Mediterranean didn’t live healthfully into their 80s, 90s, and 100s by subsisting on celery sticks and protein shakes; their meals had a heavy dose of flavor and pleasure. It’s no wonder that US News & World Report ranked the Mediterranean Diet as the #1 easiest diet to follow, among several other accolades.

Good for the Planet

The Mediterranean Diet traces its roots back to a time when people were more connected with the food producing process. Because 24-hour convenience stores, meal deliveries, and fast food weren’t an option, people were under more pressure to take care of their land and seas, and the pattern of the Mediterranean Diet reflects this reality.

Today, scientists are increasingly aware that the health of people and the health of the planet go hand-in-hand. In fact, studies indicate that switching to a Mediterranean Diet can cut greenhouse gas emissions, as well as land, water, and energy use, compared to our current highly processed, meat-heavy way of eating.

Good for the Pocketbook

The journey toward healthy eating doesn’t have to cost a fortune. To see if traditional ways of getting healthy meals on the table stand up to modern food economics, researchers calculated the cost of a 7-day meal plan for an economical version of the USDA MyPlate guidelines, and compared it to that of a plant-based diet with olive oil.

They found that choosing a plant-based diet, instead of the budget MyPlate diet, could save $746.46 per person per year, and provide vastly more servings of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. At the time, a largely vegetarian diet accented with local fish, unrefined grains, and seasonal vegetables may have been considered humble “peasant food,” but today we appreciate the kitchen tips and tricks from the generations of thrifty home cooks that came before us.

Convinced? If you’re ready to make the switch, we have just the thing, available this month only: the Med 25 Bundle.

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