Mediterranean Food Pyramid
Curious about the Mediterranean diet? We help to answer all the common questions and benefits to help you make a healthier choice.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
This is an excellent diet if you are looking to lead a healthier lifestyle. While there is no “true” definition of what the Mediterranean diet is, the idea behind it remains the same.
Based on the culture and dietary habits of people living in the Mediterranean, it has been labeled as a “heart-healthy” diet by many nutritionists and doctors.
This diet focuses mainly on fruits, veggies, whole grains, and, surprisingly, olive oil! Following this diet, there is much less red meat consumed and more seafood and poultry.
Think about it. The Mediterranean is right beside the ocean, so lots of fresh seafood and produce is available. Red meat is less of a staple in these countries.
The focus of this diet is mostly an addition to your healthy lifestyle, not a complete change. However, making these small changes to your everyday diet can positively impact you without having to go to the gym 24/7.
Mediterranean Food Pyramid
At the base of the Meditarranean food pyramid, the largest part is physical activity.
But, it doesn’t stop there. Aside from physical activity, social connections and sharing meals are also a part of the base. Social relationships are said to lower anxiety and depression, help our immune system, and boost our self-esteem, contributing to a healthier lifestyle.
Next, we see produce and healthy fats as the second widest part of the pyramid. This includes fruits, veggies, nuts, olive oil, beans, spices; the list can go on forever.
In third place, we have fish and seafood. Seafood can be a great source of healthy fats and omega oils, along with other nutrients. It is typically recommended to eat fish and seafood at least twice a week.
Higher up the pyramid are poultry and dairy products. Since the Mediterranean diet is more plant-based, it makes sense for poultry to be consumed in lesser quantities.
Lastly, we have red meat and sugar. Sugar may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how much sugar is in your everyday food.
What Makes The Mediterranean Diet So Healthy?
Simply put, eating a plant-based diet is healthier overall. Conversely, eating meat, sugars, and alcohol in excess can contribute to health issues and even early death.
Eating a plant-based diet can do the opposite. Following a plant-based diet such as the Mediterranean can reduce the chances of a life-long illness and other diseases.
Fruits, veggies, healthy fats, etc., all have their own health benefits such as immune system support, proper nutrients, fiber, and can help to maintain a healthy weight.
Are People In The Mediterranean Healthier Than Americans Due To Their Diet?
We all know that Americans love their red meat. This isn’t necessarily bad; red meat has its fair share of health benefits, such as being a good source of iron, zinc, and B-12.
However, there can be too much of a good thing. Red meat isn’t meant to be consumed daily. In fact, people who eat too much meat are at a much higher risk of developing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and early death.
On average, Americans consume 274 pounds of meat every year, elevating the health risks.
Seeing as how the Meditarranan diet is almost completely plant-based, the people in the Mediterranean don’t share those same risks. It could therefore be inferred that people in the Meditarranean are healthier due to their plant-based diet.
In fact, a study was conducted in the 1960s, showing that the Mediterranean diet led to fewer deaths in meditarran countries compared to the U.S. Although the study is quite old, the science behind it remains the same.
What To Eat
As discussed above, the Meditaranean diet is almost entirely plant-based. So, of course, fruits and veggies are going to be included in this diet.
When developing your meal plan, you should mainly focus on veggies, fruits, whole grains, seafood, nuts, spices, herbs, bread, and olive oil.
While consuming poultry and dairy products is okay, these food items should be eaten on occasion rather than regularly.
If you are a fan of red wine, do not despair! Having a glass of wine here and there is completely within the limits of the Meditaranean diet.
Lastly, healthy fats are also included in this diet. Not sure what counts as healthy fat? Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat are considered “good” because they are good for your heart and cholesterol.
Things like avocado, peanut butter, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and tofu are all good examples.
What Food To Avoid
Red meat is at the top of the list, along with sugar. So say goodbye to steak and cookies.
Anything with added sugar has also been axed. This includes soda, ice cream, desserts, etc.
Also on the no-no list are refined grains (pasta, white bread), trans fats, refined oils, processed meats, or processed foods.
The health benefits of the Meditarranean diet are almost endless.
A study done in Spain found that the Meditarranean diet reduces the chances of heart disease by 66%, heart attacks and strokes by 30%, and breast cancer by 68%. Those are huge numbers!
Of course, the Meditarranean diet has been labeled the “heart-healthy” diet due to the rare consumption of red meat, a leading factor in heart disease.
The Meditarannean diet consists of healthy fats, alternative proteins, and fiber. These foods are great for leaving you full with smaller portions, avoiding overeating, snacking, and binge eating.
Your brain needs food to work correctly, just like any other part of your body. So the better food you eat, the better your brain will function.
There was a study done where the results showed a decrease in the likelihood of depression by 25% by following the Meditarranean diet.
Is The Mediterannean Diet For You?
The Mediterranean can be a healthy and positive addition to a healthy lifestyle. Many health benefits can impact your everyday life, making for a healthy and happier you.