People in countries who eat a healthy Mediterranean diet have a lower rate of cardiovascular disease than in the United States, although both consume the same amount of fat. The difference is the type of fat each of the regions consumes. Mediterraneans also have a low incidence of chronic disease and very high life expectancy rates.
When you think of somewhere like Greece, you may immediately think about olive oil. This oil has nutritional, medicinal and cosmetic benefits. It can make your skin supple and is also a part of a healthy diet that can even lower cholesterol. Olive oil contains antioxidants that reduce the event of clogged arteries, lower cholesterol levels as well as reduce the rate of chronic disease including cancer.
The Mediterranean Diet is Low in Saturated Fat
The total fat ranges between 28 to 40 percent of the total calories. The majority of the daily intake is from plant foods There is more iron and vitamin B in the Mediterranean diet than many other countries.
But olive oil is not the only factor working for the Mediterraneans. They also eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, fish, olives, beans, breads and cereals. This diet does not include a lot of red meat and tends to steer clear of animal fats. The Mediterraneans eat very few eggs and do not consume a lot of dairy. Of the dairy they do enjoy, one of greater used products is yogurt. Yogurt contains probiotics, or healthy bacteria that are known to stabilize the gastrointestinal tract and reduce infection.
In addition to eating well and cooking with olive oil, people in Mediterranean counties get more exercise than Americans. They do not tend to “jump in the car” to get a simple loaf of bread down the street. And if you visit Greece, you will immediately notice the great amount of stairs they climb every day.
A traditional Mediterranean diet contains a greater amount of Omega-3 fatty acids than other diets. Omega 3′s are polyunsaturated fatty acids that can only be obtained from food. They can increase your HDL (your good cholesterol) and decrease your triglycerides, which is the fatty material found in blood. It is believed that Omega-3′s improve your cardiovascular health and may help in warding off cancer.
Tips for Eating a Mediterranean Diet
If you would like to eat more like those in Mediterranean countries, start using olive oil when you cook. Eat darker breads and avoid white bread as much as possible. Choose fish and chicken over red meat. Eat more vegetables at dinner than the meat, and eat fresh fruit for dessert, maybe even dipped in yogurt laced with a bit of brown sugar. Reduce your dairy intake, choosing other calcium rich foods over milk and other dairy products.
An example of a nice Mediterranean breakfast may include a fruit and whole grain bread. A healthy lunch can include whole wheat pita bread filled with spinach, chicken and an olive oil and vinegar dressing. Perhaps a squeeze of lemon would brighten up the pita sandwich! Choose fish for dinner lightly browned in olive oil, or steamed with olive oil and lemon drizzled over for taste. Eat fresh fruit with it and plenty of steamed vegetables. If you like, vegetables are delicious saut’ed in olive oil with parsley and garlic. Good cheers and happiness.