Ahh, the Mediterranean…
What images do you see when thinking of when this exotic word is spoken?
Cool ocean breezes… beautiful beaches… sapphire blue waters…
Greek salads and healthy bodies?
With so many health problems new to this generation of man…. many people are searching for answers to today’s problems by peering into the past…
And it was only a matter of time until the foods of the Mediterranean were brought under the microscope.
While food in many countries are considered an afterthought… in others such as…Greece, Italy, and Egypt…eats are very important to theses coastal inhabitants as well as their cultures.
Food has even played a major role in the histories of some of these countries…as some wars were even fought because of it!
But while food is a major influence to the culture of Mediterranean people…so to… is a healthy lifestyle.
In a recent article from the Mayo Clinic…
The Mediterranean diet is thought to reduce your risk of heart health related illness’. In fact, a 2007 study conducted in the United States found that both men and women who consumed a Mediterranean diet lowered their risk of death from both poor heart health and other life threatening health problems.
This is amazing news, but…
What is it about this eating lifestyle that lowers health risks?
Well… besides a diet heavy on fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains…one of the big factors this diet promotes health is its reliance on “good” fats.
The Mayo Clinic says:
The focus of the Mediterranean diet isn’t to limit total fat consumption, but to make wise choices about the types of fat you eat.
The typical western diet is high in both saturated fats as well as red meat products and fibers are seen as side dishes.
And there’s the big difference…
People that live in this coastal area drastically limit their red meat consumption as well as stay away from poor fat choices.
The Mediterranean diet limits much of its fat intake to mostly monounsaturated fats… a type of fat that can help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated or trans fats…like olive oil.
As well as polyunsaturated fats (Omega 3), which has been shown to lower triglycerides, lower blood pressure slightly, as well as reduces the risks of below par heart health.
These kinds of healthy fats can come from a variety of different sources…such as nuts and fish.
Put together with the focus on fresh vegetables and fruit….this eating culture may have the key to unlocking the secret to longer, healthier lives.
But that’s notall…
The article goes on to give other tips on Mediterranean cuisine that focus on more of the specifics on what to eat…and what NOT to!
- Use butter sparingly. “Low fat” or “cholesterol-free” on the label doesn’t mean a product is necessarily good for you. Many of these items are made with trans fats.
- Eat a variety of whole fruits and vegetables every day. Ultimately, strive for seven to 10 servings a day. Keep baby carrots, apples and bananas on hand for quick, satisfying snacks. Fruit salads are a wonderful way to eat a variety of healthy — and tasty — fruit.
- Use olive oil in cooking. Try olive oil for salad dressing and as a healthy replacement for butter or margarine. After cooking pasta, add a touch of olive oil, some garlic and green onions for flavoring. Dip bread in flavored olive oil or lightly spread it on whole-grain bread for a tasty alternative to butter.
- Substitute fish and poultry for red meat. Avoid sausage, bacon and other high-fat meats.
- Eat fish once or twice a week. Water-packed tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring are healthy choices.
- Keep walnuts, almonds, pecans and Brazil nuts on hand for a quick snack.
- If it’s OK with your doctor, go ahead and have a glass of red wine at dinner. If you don’t drink alcohol, you don’t need to start. Drinking purple grape juice may be a healthy alternative to wine.
As informative as this article was… there is one aspect of the Mediterranean lifestyle that I think the researches failed to notice:
And that’s the amount of walking the people of the region do.
Many of these people live a more active lifestyle out of necessity… some can’t afford automobiles…while other areas are almost impossible to travel by car.
They walk everywhere…
And we should not ignore this fact.
It’s a wonderful decision to change to any healthier lifestyle…and maybe the diet of the Mediterranean is for you…but don’t discount the benefits of a healthy walk…
Your heart will thank you!