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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What is so Cool about the Mediterranean Diet?

Key Ingredient of the Mediterranean Diet-- Olive Oil

Recently I wrote about my desire and commitment to give up sugar. It just wasn't working to keeping ignoring it as a daily trigger to my healthy diet. In order to do that I felt I needed to truly "change things up". I thought it would be a good idea to find a diet, really a way of eating, that did not incorporate sugar in the preparation of foods. As I read and roamed around the internet I found the Mediterranean Diet showing up in all my searches. It is all about fresh foods, aromatic spices, lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, oil not butter, not much meat and very little sugar, if any.

Here is what I learned from an article published on WedMD By

For the past 50 years, scientists have studied the eating patterns characteristic of the Mediterranean diet -- and they continue to find additional health benefits. Recently, a large study published in journal BMJ showed that healthy people who followed a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Further, a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that a restricted-calorie Mediterranean diet (as well as a low-carb diet) could be even more effective for weight loss than a low-fat diet, while also offering other health benefits.

"Research continues to demonstrate that being physically active and eating a nutritious diet of primarily whole foods that are filling and satisfying can enable people to control weight, lower blood pressure [and] cholesterol levels, reduce risk of diabetes, heart disease [and] Alzheimer’s disease, and basically protect against chronic diseases," says cardiologist Arthur Agatston, MD, creator of the South Beach Diet, based on the Mediterranean diet model.

What Makes the Mediterranean Diet So Healthy?

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and seeds provides thousands of micronutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can help protect against cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, among other conditions, experts say.

The multiple factors at work in the Mediterranean diet, Agatston explains, provide health benefits that "cannot be replaced by a supplement."

The Mediterranean diet also emphasizes minimally processed, fresh, and preferably local foods.  Typical meals include plenty of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, olive oil, whole grains, pasta, and cereals, with lesser amounts of fish, poultry, eggs, and low-fat dairy, and even smaller amounts of meat. A glass of wine is almost always served with lunch and dinner.

According to the May Clinic website key components of the Mediterranean diet are-
  • Getting plenty of exercise
  • Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
  • Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
  • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
  • Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)
The diet also recognizes the importance of enjoying meals with family and friends. 

As you can see, it is about a healthy lifestyle using fresh whole foods and very little processed or refined ingredients...which includes sugar.

The wonderful thing about the Mediterranean approach to cooking is it is reflected in many different cultures. We are having so much fun exploring the spices and styles of Morocco, Spain and Greece as well as Italy and the cooking of Southern France.

Without the sugar, my grazing in the late afternoon is just not a problem. I feel in control and I am loving the cooking! Stay tunes for up coming recipes and reviews that follow our newly adopted lifestyle. And please share yours!