Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean diet ion restaurant by the sea

This looks a good place to try the Med Diet

What Is the Mediterranean Diet?

Mediterranean diet and olive oil are bound together

Can´t get away from olives on the Med

What is generally known as a “Mediterranean Diet” are the foods that Mediterranean peoples consume. Usually, however,  which Mediterranean countries are referred to is not specified. It is generally taken to be the foods of Greece, Italy, Spain and southern France. Portugal is also usually included as a sort of honorary Med member. The diets of these countries have been considered for a long time as bringing good health, slim figures and strong hearts. Consequently, there has been considerable expert interest and research in recent years. These countries do not, in fact, have the same diet as each other.  Nevertheless, they do have things in common. These include relatively high consumption of fish, poultry, vegetables, fruit, legumes and olive oil. They have a lower consumption of red meat and sweets.

It´s now thought that a Mediterranean diet brings with it a reduced risk of illness.  The risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes seem to be reduced. Possibly, also reduced is the risk of Alzheimer´s and Parkinson´s diseases and some cancers.

What Foods Are in the Mediterranean Diet?

The foods that form the main part of the diets of Greece, Italy, Spain, southern France and Portugal are considered, by experts,  to include:

Mediterranean diet includes lots of fish

Med diet usually includes fish several times a week

Grilled fish and poultry, but relatively little red meat;  plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables;  legumes  –  a legume is a simple, dry fruit contained within a shell or a pod.  The best-known ones include:  peas, peanuts, beans, lentils, chickpeas;   whole-grain cereals and bread;  low-fat dairy  –  milk and cheese, but not much of it;   nuts, specially , almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews;  seeds;  herbs and spices;  extra virgin olive oil;   small to moderate amounts of red wine

The above list is not completely correct.

Whole-grain foods are not much eaten in southern Europe, probably less than in the USA or Australasia, say. The bread on the Med table is just like the bread you´ll find on the breakfast table in the UK. and the pasta is not whole grain. Nor is the rice  –  popular in all of southern Europe, but rarely whole-grain. As for low-fat dairy foods, consumption is probably about the same, or less, than in non-Med countries. It is true, though, that consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables is higher than elsewhere and, also, of beans, lentils and chickpeas. Full-fat cheese is popular in all these countries, with some world-famous ones. Gorgonzola, manchego etc etc etc.

Mediterranean Diet Certainly Healthier Than Most Other Diets

All in all, the idealised Med diet is healthier than most, with less junk food and things out of cans. Some of the best food in the Mediterranean countries is to be found in rural areas. Fresh home-made bread, good strong home-made cheese, salad from their own crops and olive oil that they produced. Plenty of home-cured ham, too. Local fruit at the end of the meal. Figs, peaches, apricots  –  depending on the season. Red wine and, usually, on Mediterranean tables, is water. Poor-man´s food  –  fit for a king!

Mediterranean Countries Gradually Abandoning the Med Diet!

Things have been changing rapidly for a while now. The original simplicity and concentration on local fresh fruit, vegetables and legumes came to a large extent from poverty. However,  prosperity in all these countries has increased amazingly over the last 40 years and with the increased prosperity have come the vices of the northern European. Less fruit and vegetables and salads. Legumes are still eaten, but in much smaller quantities. A lot of factory-produced oils are consumed now, as well as the usual fast-food and junk food. (Not necessarily the same thing!)

Mediterranean Diet Benefits Are Part Myth And Part True

The Med diet was always partly myth, as is the idea that people who live in Med countries have much longer life-spans. But it was only partly a myth. It is still only partly a myth, but the diet that the Med people eat is getting steadily closer to a northern European or American diet.  In towns and cities, where populations increasingly live, diets have been getting steadily more and more unhealthy for a long time now.

Does the Mediterranean Diet Lead To a Healthy Weight?

The Lancet published an analysis of a report, which concluded that low carbohydrate and Mediterranean diets are more effective than low-fat diets for losing weight. This analysis was authoritative, as it looked at the results of 53 long-term studies, starting in 1960,  comparing diets and involving over 68,000 people. They concluded that long-standing advice to cut fat intake was incorrect. The disheartening aspect is that they also concluded that no diets work longer term, which they took to be over one year, as most people soon regain all or most of any weight they might have lost. This probably arises because people give up or relax the diet, often well before the end of a year.

Mediterranean Diet Best Long-Term For Maintaining Weight With Healthy Natural Food

Mediterranean diet breakfast - toat, tomato & olive oil

Fresh bread, tomatoe and extra virgin olive oil. So simple, so boring…and so tasty for breakfast

The Mediterranean diet is (or was!) the way of eating of a large chunk of the population of southern Europe, people who found it filling and enjoyable as a permanent way of eating. They were also generally slim.

Reports Back Mediterranean Diet For Weight Loss

The Lancet report and also various other studies have all concluded that a Mediterranean diet can lead to weight loss. Losing weight with a Mediterranean diet has the advantage that one need not cut out any food groups or types of food while following it. Simply consume less of it while trying to lose weight and then return to normal amounts when the desired weight has been reached. No strange pills or potions or cutting out great chunks of one´s normal diet or eating strange foods that supposedly lead to weight loss. The Mediterranean diet provides the means of losing weight and then maintaining the new weight, all the while eating broadly the same foods. It is a permanent way of eating that is easy to stick to because the food is delicious, cheap and easy to prepare and also satisfying and healthy.

If you want to go to details of how to follow a Mediterranean diet:

Images courtesy of:   –   pixabay