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Mediterranean Diet Guidelines

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Mediterranean Diet Guidelines

What Exactly is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet is not a specific diet plan or diet program. Rather, it's a collection of eating habits that are traditionally followed by the people of the Medierranean region. The Mediterranean diet has attracted interest due to the traditionally lower rates of diet-related disease (e.g. heart disease and cancer) within the region.

Mediterranean Diet - In a Nutshell

  • Heavily Dependent on Plant Foods
  • Low in Saturated Fat - Rich in Monounsaturated Fat
  • Low to Moderate Consumption of Dairy Products
  • Limited Consumption of Fish, Poultry and Red Meat
  • Moderate Consumption of Wine With Meals

What Does the Mediterranean Diet Consist of?

Here are the basic elements of a Mediterranean-style diet. For a visual illustration, please click Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

  • Emphasis on food from plant sources, including fruits and vegetables, potatoes, breads and grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
  • Emphasis on a variety of minimally processed and, wherever possible, seasonally fresh and locally grown foods.
  • Olive oil (rich in monounsaturates) as the principal fat. Almost no butter, margarine, or other fats. No trans-fats or hydrogenated fats.
  • Total fat contributing 25-35 percent of calories - saturated fat no more than 8 percent of calories.
  • Daily consumption of low to moderate amounts of cheese and yogurt. Frequently from goats and sheep - even camels.
  • Regular consumption of small amounts of fish and poultry.
  • Fresh fruit as the typical daily dessert.
  • Very small amounts of red meat, eaten occasionally.
  • Moderate consumption of wine with meals; about one to two glasses per day for men and one glass per day for women.

Mediterranean Diet - Other Important Elements

To the above diet food guidelines must be added three very important non-food elements.

(1) Sunshine. (2) Regular Physical Exercise. (3) Reduced stress.

To what extent these non-food elements contribute to the healthfulness of the Mediterranean diet, remains unknown.

Mediterranean Diet - A Traditional Style of Eating

Although some people living within the Mediterranean region still follow this traditional Mediterranean diet, many do not. So the idea that such a diet is still the norm throughout Mediterranean countries is a myth. Nonetheless, studying the Mediterranean diet, with it's emphasis on fruits, vegetables and other healthy carbohydrates, it is clearly far-removed from the high-protein, low-carb diets which seem to be the current fashion.

See also:
Arabic Diet
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