There is a lot of hype around the mediterranean diet, and many may think it’s the new FAD, however this time it’s really about health and not a temporary frenzy in the food industry.
The mediterranean diet dates back centuries and lately is slowly disappearing, many people who live in the hustle and bustle of big cities and are always too busy or simply are not interested that much into healthy eating, are moving towards an unhealthy fast and process western diet.
The 6 mediterranean diet pillars are:
- legumes as main source of protein
- whole grains
- healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil and nuts and seeds
- lots and lots of vegetables,
- naturally fermented foods such as sourdough bread and cheese.
- choosing quality over quantity
Animal protein such as fish and meat are eating sparingly and usually they are high quality, grass fed (meat) and wild caught (fish).
Just until a few decades ago meat and fish were a luxury and were eating in case of big celebrations. The animals were mainly raised at home and killing the pig, for example, was a big celebration in the winter, with the whole family, and that animal would have provided food for a lot of people for one year, besides all sorts of other things people made with it, not wasting even a tiny bit.
Healthy features in the mediterranean diet
Even though it’s pretty straight forward, it’s worth spending a few words on why the mediterranean diet is so healthy.
Let’s start with beans, lentils and pulses. These are precious sources of vegetable protein, they’re rich in fiber and, when prepared in the right way, easy to digest and also provide energy and stamina. When paired with whole grains, pasta or bread they provide the perfect amino-acidic profile for a well balanced and nutritious meal.
When thinking about the mediterranean region the first thing that comes to mind is pasta or bread, however a lot of whole grains are eaten in their natural form. Spelt, barley and wheat can be boiled and eaten as is as side dish or in salads, or in soups.
Pasta and bread have usually been prepared with whole wheat flour and using sourdough instead of dry yeast or, worst, quick dry yeast, and it lasted days, if weeks without going bad.
Whole grains are a very good source of fibers and good carbs, along with vitamins and minerals. The consumption of whole grain is linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
VEGETABLES AND HEALHTY FATS
You won’t find a meal in the mediterranean that does not include vegetables. From tomatoes, to leafy greens, to all sorts of wild plants that are usually served a side dishes stir fried with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and chili pepper, a super boost for the metabolism. Not to mention fiber, vitamins and all the amazing nutrients vegetables provides us with.
Nuts and seeds are also used a lot, pistachios, almonds and walnuts along with seeds used in salty and sweet dishes.
Rich in omega 3 fatty acids and poliphenols like hydroxytyrosol (extra virgin olive oil) they are useful for heart and brain health and are all anti aging and disease fighting for the whole body.
If you want to try the mediterranean diet you can follow a simple yet crucial advice: the simples the better. Eat foods in their natural form, avoid packaged seasonings and dressings, all sorts of processed foods and enjoy the taste of the real food!
This will help improving your health in the long term but with the first results already in the short run.