Unhealthy saturated and trans fats are what contribute to heart disease and the Mediterranean Diet is free of them.
There are several diets out there that make a ton of promises from weight loss to delaying the aging process. However, most restrictive diets leave out vital nutrients or promote excessive intake of a certain food-type, that could lead to health complications
WHILE CHOOSING A CERTAIN DIET PLAN:
- Make sure the food you eat has all necessary vitamins / nutrients.
- Make sure the meals are easy to prepare from ingredients that are easily available
- Do not starve yourself and end up fatigued and incapable of carrying out basic activities
- Make realistic and measurable goals. Do not expect to lose weight overnight!
- Understand that you must also do some form of exercise to stay fit.
- Consult with a nutritionist just to be sure the diet suits you
WHAT IS THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET?
The diet has its origin in countries along the Mediterranean Sea, where the diet was heavy on vegetables, fruits, and seafood. Research showed that there were comparatively fewer cases of cardiovascular disease in these places and scientists pinned it down to the diet. More research has since proved that the Mediterranean Diet is especially beneficial to the heart. There is no calorie counting, and the quantity is left up to the individual. However, if you manage to follow the diet plan with a check on calories, you will be protecting your heart AND losing weight! And that is definitely a win-win!
WHAT KIND OF FOOD DOES THE DIET ALLOW?
- Vegetables and Fruits form the main part of the daily diet. You can have up to 10 servings a day.
- Vegetables: Tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, yams
- Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons
- Legumes: Beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas
- Spices & Herbs: Garlic, pepper, nutmeg, basil, mint, cinnamon
- Whole Grains are also a part of the core foods of the diet to be consumed every day. Switch to whole oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat, whole-grain bread, and pasta.
- Nuts and Seeds are good for you but restrict to just a handful a day. Make a mix of Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Enjoy a fistful of the nuts-mix as an evening snack.
- This is not a fat-free diet. Rather the emphasis is on consuming lesser saturated fat. Healthy fats allowed in the diet include extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, and avocado oil.
- Twice a week help yourself wish fish and seafood – tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel, and herring are healthy choices. Keep them healthy by grilling them instead of deep frying. Have poultry, dairy foods, and eggs in moderation. Avoid red meat completely or restrict it to once a month.
- Avoid sugary food, highly processed food, refined grains, processed meat, refined oils, and food with trans fats.
THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET AND CARDIAC HEALTH
The diet is loaded with nutrients and leaves out the bad stuff that could hurt your heart.
- It is a low-sodium diet that looks to herbs and spices for flavour rather than salt – this keeps your blood pressure on check.
- It includes only healthy fats. Unhealthy saturated and trans fats are what contribute to heart disease and the Mediterranean Diet is free of them.
- Olive oil, which is the star of the Mediterranean diet is said to lower bad cholesterol.
- Fish, which is also an important part of the diet is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help decrease triglycerides, reduce blood clotting, and decrease the risk of stroke and heart failure.
The Mediterranean Diet is not a very restrictive diet. There are a lot of foods to choose from and experiment with. While it might seem overwhelming to start with, once you give it a go you will realise that everything you need is easily available and easier still to cook. You can adjust the flavours and quantity as per your liking and need. Once you get accustomed to this diet, you can then think about calorie counting to lose weight in a healthy way.
CONSULTANT – FAMILY MEDICINE
MBBS, DNB (FAMILY MEDICINE)