Surprise! There is no need to count the calories with a Mediterranean diet. Rather than relying on a calculator, you swap the bad fats with healthful foods that benefit cardiovascular health. Choose poultry or fish instead of red meat.
Skip the butter and replace it with olive oil. And swap the sugary treats with a bowl of fresh fruit. It’s that simple. You get to eat your fill without piling a few extra pounds. Of course, there are a couple of no-gos when sticking to this diet. But, it isn’t something that you can’t overcome.
Countless consumers are looking to add a Mediterranean diet to their regular meal plan. But are you finding yourself confused by the seemingly endless diet plans and strategies? If you want to know what makes Mediterranean diets so popular, you are in for a treat. We compiled some practical facts that will answer all your queries.
What Makes a Mediterranean Diet a Top Choice?
Recognized for the 4th year in a row in 2021 by U.S News World as the best overall diet, the Mediterranean diet remains on the top of the list. U.S News World welcomed the new year ranking of 39 diets including weight loss and best overall diets back in January 2021.
Other than being best overall, this diet also claimed the top spot in 5 other lists. Such as the easiest to follow, the best diet for healthy eating, the best diet for heart health, the best for diabetes, and the best plant-based diet.
The Flexitarian diet and DASH diet claimed the number 2 spot on the best overall ranking list, according to the U.S news world report. A Flexitarian diet is for those who like the benefits of a vegetarian diet but can’t imagine giving up meat. The Flexitarian diet is also flexible and convenient.
As more and more people stay cooped up at home due to COVID-19, it’s critical to have something to grapple with that would help maintain optimal overall health. Praised for its ability to improve longevity and heart health, the Mediterranean diet is now more important than ever, stated Dr David Katz, a renowned American physician, for U.S News World.
Research shows that this diet has been recognized for improving insulin resistance and glycemic control in diabetic patients susceptible to cardiovascular disease. Several reports demonstrate a reduction in early vascular aging. But, wellness professionals believe that the health benefits of this diet can extend well beyond that.
Not only can it promote a healthy heart, but it could also curb the cognitive decline to some extent in elderly patients. This makes the diet a solid choice for brain health. But, there is more to the Mediterranean lifestyle, than meets the eye.
This eating pattern may also reduce the development of some ailments, such as macular degeneration, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney stones, osteoporosis, and the symptom of depression in some patients.
Some studies indicate that foods typically found in a Mediterranean diet, such as vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fruits, veggies, and extra virgin olive oil, have a favorable effect on the risk of hypertension. Whereas food groups not found in this eating pattern, like processed meat, can cause an unhealthy spike in blood pressure.
Can You Slim Down With This Diet?
People are constantly on the lookout for diets that promote weight loss. They like to consume fewer calories with a structured diet. While this eating pattern isn’t primarily one of those weight-loss diets, some people can lose weight.
Since the diet emphasizes fruits, veggies, and other healthy food groups, it does have some impact on weight loss. The New England Journal of Medicine studied the impact of low-carb diets, Mediterranean, and low-fat diets for weight loss.
The trials compared the safety and effectiveness of weight-loss diets. Based on the England Journal Mediterranean and low carb diets could be efficient alternatives to low-fat options. A low-fat diet is often suggested to people who want to lose weight. But, because of how strict it is, it’s extremely hard to keep up with it in the long run.
People also find it unenjoyable due to the lack of variety. Low carb groups are different. A low-carb diet provided favorable health benefits on lipid levels. While with the Mediterranean diet, you can obtain adequate glycemic control. This study suggests that what you like the best will play a key role in how you tailor the dietary interventions. So, what are the best weight-loss diets, you ask? Choose a diet that you can handle and enjoy.
If you prefer a mostly plant-based diet with options like olive oil, whole grains, beans, and nuts. Including a moderate amount of animal foods, then the Mediterranean diet can make for a worthwhile choice. It is considered to be among the best plant-based diets with a plethora of beneficial compounds.
Then again, there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” diet. It’s about incorporating the foods that benefit the whole system while supplying the body with nutrients. If you are in the mood for more proteins and non-starchy vegetables, then the low-carb option is the way to go. While there isn’t a strict guideline with this diet, anything below 100 to 150 g/day is often considered low carb. With a more balanced diet and healthy carbs, you can stay on the right track.
What Is the Success Rate of the Mediterranean Diet?
Harvard experts stated that studies consistently show that the Mediterranean diet is effective in reducing the risk of heart disease and overall mortality. A report of roughly 26,000 women determined that those who followed this diet experienced a 25% less risk of developing heart ailments for a span of 12 years.
Researchers assessed the underlying mechanisms that drive these results. They found that the diet could aid with inflammation, blood sugar, and body mass index – all of which have been found to influence the cardiovascular system. This makes it one of the best heart-healthy diets.
Most healthy fats came from olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish. They are known to benefit the heart, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Simply put, healthy fats are critical for giving the body energy and supporting cell function.
Another review found that the Mediterranean diet is effective for losing weight. It resulted in up to 10 kg (22 pounds) of lost weight in over 1 year. The diet is also great for long-term adherence, meaning that belly fat and weight gain are less likely going to be a problem in the next 5 years.
What Is a Good Grocery List for the Mediterranean Diet?
If you are not a fan of a low-fat or a DASH diet, then the Mediterranean diet can be the right option for you. So, what do Mediterraneans eat every day? Before you can start focusing on your meal plan, it’s a good idea to know the options you can stock your fridge with.
This will be the “bread & butter” for a healthy journey. We decided to talk about entire food groups to give you a better perspective of what to expect. First, the key ingredients. Check out the grocery list example below.
- Beans: cannellini, chickpeas, split peas, and lentils.
- Dairy: Greek yogurt that’s low in fat, feta, Romano, and tzatziki.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fish: mackerel, tuna, or salmon.
- Fresh herbs: za’atar, oregano, dill, mint, parsley, and basil.
- Seasonal fruit
- Lemon & lime
- Meat: shrimp, and chicken breast.
- Nuts: walnuts and almonds.
- Vegetables: zucchini, olives, mushrooms, garlic, eggplant, kale, spinach, etc.
- Whole grains: farro, and quinoa.
What Do You Eat for Breakfast on a Mediterranean Diet?
There is no shortage of breakfast ideas that are good for you. You can make yourself a breakfast bowl of your favorite whole grains, like buckwheat, quinoa, and millet, and serve it with some healthy toppings. Feel free to experiment and come up with your own variations.
For example, whole grains topped with toasted almonds, coconut flakes, and cocoa nibs. This delicious combination offers solid texture and has a nice crunch. Overall, this diet puts a lot of emphasis on seeds, nuts, whole grains, veggies, and fruits.
You can eat eggs and avocados or cherry tomatoes for breakfast. Or yogurt with some flax seeds and fruits. Whip up a toast with some banana and peanut butter. It’s a no-cook meal you can gobble up in seconds and you can enjoy it on the go. Also, any bean dip will do. Such as white-bean dip, black bean dip, or hummus.
Smear it on your favorite sandwich to give it a nice tangy flavor and some saltiness. Options such as these are a nutrient powerhouse, meaning that they can help you lose weight. As you can see, this healthy diet offers plenty of versatility. Entire food groups are at your disposal and you can use them as you see fit. This makes it one of the easiest diets to follow.
What Is Not Allowed on the Mediterranean Diet?
The goal is simple – provide your body with all the nutrients, minerals, and vitamins it needs. Aim to consume 3 to 4 servings of veggies and 3 servings of fruits a day. If you want a sugary treat, then add some poached fruits to your dessert.
For a lengthy meal, whole grain pasta, legumes, lean poultry, and fish will do. This is no strict diet plan. But, you should stay away from products like:
- Processed red meats
- Highly processed goodies
- Refined or hydrogenated oils
- Refined grains
That includes hot dogs, sausages, sodas, and products packed with white flour. When it comes to alcohol, you may want to refrain from using it, other than red wine. What you can do is focus on whole foods that are either minimally processed or not processed at all. Basically, foods that don’t need labels or a bunch of ingredients you can’t pronounce.
Can You Eat Bacon on Mediterranean Diet?
Try to abstain from processed and cured meats like salami and bacon. They may taste good but are not a practical choice to add to this diet. If you are looking forward to some animal protein, opt for omega-3 fats instead. Products like tuna, mackerel, and salmon will go a long way. Fish is the no.1 animal protein source that topples even poultry.
So, why not bacon? Bacon is 40% saturated fat. You should limit this kind of intake to not over 5 to 6% of the calories you take from your diet. For a 2,000-calorie diet, that would mean not over 13g (120 calories) of saturated fat daily. In 3 slices of bacon, you get roughly 5g of saturated fat.
The more you eat it, the bigger the risk of raising your “bad” cholesterol. Also, do you know how many calories are in bacon? In just 100g of pan-fried bacon, you get 541 calories. Because of how delicious it is, it is difficult to eat just 2 to 3 slices and avoid chronic disease.
What Diet Is Closest to Mediterranean Diet?
Looking for something similar? Then the DASH is the right diet. It is meant to keep the blood sugar and pressure in check, with a similar eating style. It focuses on low-fat dairy, whole grains, veggies, and fruits.
You also have the MIND diet, which is basically a mix of Mediterranean and DASH diets. The only difference is that you focus on eating foods that nourish the central nervous system, such as fatty fish, berries, and nuts. Based on a U.S News World report, it can be one of those diabetes diets.
Other Best Diets to Try
If you are interested in commercial diets, then there are other options you can try. We narrowed down the search for you. Based on the World report, the best commercial diets are practical, healthy, and feature a high overall score.
Mainly the Mayo Clinic diet, WW (weight watchers) diet, and Jenny Craig diet. The Mayo Clinic focuses on making healthy eating a lifelong habit. It’s nutritional and safe. The goal is to recalibrate the eating habits and break the bad food choices.
The second option is better tailored towards curbing the extra pounds. It is considered among the best diet for fast results. Although it is flexible and customizable, it can be a bit pricey. With the potential to help diabetics, Jenny Craig is another one of the best diets. It is safe, yet may have some lukewarm potential depending on person to person.
For those who are interested in another livable diet, then the Nordic diet might make for a practical alternative. If you live in the Nordic regions, then you can make the most of the locally-sourced foods. It may not be the number one on the list for best diets, but it is still good for the body.
People are constantly looking for some of the best diets out there. Some like a control diet, which limits their calorie intake. Others prefer freedom and flexibility. Since it is easy to gain more weight, it’s essential to focus on the best diets that offer long-term results. That’s where the Mediterranean diet comes into play. It is a way of eating that’s based on the traditional cuisine of the Mediterranean region. It’s healthy, flavorful, and teeming with variety.