Is Mediterranean Diet Worth It?
If you have been trying to lose weight for some time, you’d know there is an ocean of weight loss diets and weight loss meal plans out there. The supporters of every diet plan claim that their plan of dieting is the best. The Mediterranean diet is one of such diet plans (1).
Does this plan of dieting really work? How does it work exactly? Is it going to help me with my weight loss? What are the pros and cons? What am I allowed to eat while on this diet? These and a lot of other questions might be stirring your mind right now.
So sit tight and begin your journey to understand a bit more about the Mediterranean diet.
What is Mediterranean Diet?
Starting with, what exactly is the Mediterranean diet?
The idea of Mediterranean diet came from an observation that people in certain parts of Europe, like Italy and Spain, lived a healthier, disease-free life and they were significantly leaner than people in rest of the world. This fascinated the researchers and they started probing into the main reason of what made people of this region healthier than others.
What the researchers concluded was that the excellent health profile of people of that area was due to their excellent diet. They ate a lot of fruits, vegetables, plant-based oils. Their diets were significantly low in meat or meat-based products. Almost everything they ate was natural and nothing was artificial or processed.
So this laid the foundation of the Mediterranean diet. In a nutshell, the Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, plant-based diet, nuts, seeds, and low in meat-based products. It contains no artificial or processed things.
What is the difference between Paleo and Mediterranean Diet?
What a lot of people find confusing is that they don’t know how the Mediterranean diet differs from the paleo or the Paleolithic diet? Aren’t both the diets the same?
Well, while both diets emphasize on increasing the intake of natural, and wholesome foods, and decrease the intake of processed and junk food; there still exists a lot of differences between two.
The Mediterranean diet group does not restrict any food group. The Mediterranean diet is based on how frequently you should eat some food. The paleo diet, on the other hand, encourages the intake of more of protein-based diet and excludes dairy, legumes, and lot of fruits from the diet.
Both these dietary patterns have their own pros and cons. While the Mediterranean diet is more wholesome, it could use a little increment of protein. On the other hand, while the paleo diet contains more protein and fiber, it excludes a lot of food groups from your everyday diet. This could lead to the deficiency of a lot of nutrients. For instance, the exclusion of dairy could lead to the deficiency of calcium and vitamin D.
What Kind of Foods Make up the Mediterranean Diet or what is the Mediterranean Food Pyramid?
Remember, they are no “right” ways to do this diet. People in different parts of the world have their own version of this diet. You just need to know the basic rules of this diet. After that, you can follow it in a way as per your convenience.
Here is the basic food pyramid of the Mediterranean diet:
- Eat a lot of herbs, spices, fruits, bread, rice, vegetables, pasta, grains, beans, legumes, olive oil, potatoes, seeds, and nuts. You should eat these foods on daily basis.
- You should eat fish and other seafood at least two times a week.
- You should eat a moderate portion of eggs, poultry, cheese, and other dairy products on daily, twice weekly or weekly basis.
- You should avoid processed and artificial foods.
So, based on these general rules, here is what you are allowed to eat:
- Fruits: Peaches, bananas, melons, apples, figs, organs, grapes, and pears.
- Vegetables: Cucumbers, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots, kale, cauliflower, spinach, potatoes, and onions.
- Tubers: Yams, sweet potatoes, and turnips.
- Legumes: Chickpeas, beans, peanuts, lentils, and pulses.
- Seeds and Nuts: Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, and cashew.
- Seafood: salmon, trout, crabs, mussels, sardines, shrimps, clams, and oysters.
- Poultry: Eggs, duck, turkey, and chicken.
- Dairy: Yogurt, cheese.
- Spices and Herbs: Cinnamon, pepper, garlic, cloves, rosemary, mint, sage, and basil.
- Plant-based fats: Olive oil, sunflower oil, avocado oil.
Here are some foods you should avoid:
- You should avoid stuff with added sugar. These include table sugar, candies, pastries, cakes, bakery items, colas, and other carbonated soft beverages.
- Trans-fats are to be avoided at all costs. This would include avoiding fried and junk food items.
- Refined food items are also not allowed in this type of diet. Therefore, you should avoid white bread or any other item made from refined wheat or refined rice.
- You should also avoid processes and plant-based oils.
- Processed meat or any other processed food item should be strictly avoided.
What are the benefits of Mediterranean Diet or What is Mediterranean Diet Used for?
The biggest benefit of the Mediterranean diet is its ability to promote weight loss.
Since you are eating healthy, with a lot of fruits, vegetables, and poultry and sources of contamination are non-existent in your diet, it is quite obvious that you would lose weight.
In one research, researchers studied the effects of different types of diets in 3, 436 individuals. Researchers concluded that individuals who ate Mediterranean diet lost, on an average, up to 6 kg more weight when compared to individuals following other diet plans (2).
Another benefit of the Mediterranean diet is its ability to promote the health of your heart and blood vessels. In fact, the American Heart Association endorses Mediterranean diet as the best diet that could save you from a number of heart conditions.
Research shows that following a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart attacks and other similar heart problems by 50-70% (3).
Other benefits include:
- A reduction in blood pressure (4).
- An improvement in blood cholesterol profile with a decrease in harmful or LDL cholesterol and improvement in HDL cholesterol (5).
- An improvement in blood sugar levels in diabetics (6).
- An improved overall health and well-being (7).
What are some Mediterranean Meal Plans?
Here is a sample 7-day Mediterranean meal plan:
There you have it! This was a detailed guide on the Mediterranean diet and its potential health benefits.
You should always remember that no diet plan suits everyone. What is suitable for others might not work that well for you. Therefore, it is important that you consult a healthcare provider before starting any weight loss or any other dietary regimen.