Introduction to the Mediterranean Diet

In the world that we live in today, dozens
of companies are trying to sell us on these “diet plans” that advertise that this
is the “solution” to all of your weight problems. But the truth is, there has been a diet that
has existed for tens of thousands of years that isn’t controlled by a corporation. Hi, my name is Chris and I am going to be
telling you all about the Mediterranean diet and how it has been one of the longest running
diet plans in the world. So, some history on the diet in Europe and
the United States. The Mediterranean diet has been developed
over thousands of years in an area called the “Mediterranean Basin” which is basically
the land that surrounds the Mediterranean sea. The Mediterranean diet that we know today
formed overtime when different civilizations began trading goods with one another that
they had never seen before. Huge landmarks in history like when the Americas
were discovered lead to the discovery of new foods for the Mediterranean diet like potatoes
and tomatoes. While the Mediterranean diet was being widely
consumed and developed in Europe, it was never brought over to the United States until 1961
when a scientist named Ancel Keys discovered its health benefits. It all started when he was baffled that a
small town in southern Italy was actually healthier than the most wealthy New Yorkers
in that time period. That was when the Mediterranean diet’s benefits
were first discovered which lead to even more scientific studies that supported Keys’
findings. Since the Mediterranean diet has been brought
over to the United States, there have been numerous studies that have contributed this
diet to be linked to lower cholesterol levels which in turn reduce the chances for Heart
disease. The diet has also been linked to a reduced
chance of developing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cancer. In fact, studies have shown that women that
are on the Mediterranean diet have a reduced chance of getting breast cancer. Now, I am going to talk to you about what
foods make up the Mediterranean diet from the bottom of the pyramid to the top. Lets Start with Grains: Grains are going to
be the most consumed food out of the entire pyramid. Now, when I am talking about grains, I only
mean grains that are healthy and pack a lot of nutrients. So unfortunately, Your Favorite Wonder Classic
White Bread is out of the diet since it is made out of refined grains that only contain
the starchy endosperm of the grain kernel. In comparison to whole grains, they contain
all of the other parts of the kernel that actually contribute to a healthy diet like
the bran that’s very dense in fiber and the germ that is very rich in nutrients like
vitamin B and antioxidants (Which are Fats that protect cells) like Vitamin E. Some examples
of whole grains include wheat, barley, and oats. While there is no real amount of grains that
you should strive to eat, it is important to eat at every meal as it provides a huge
boost of energy since that’s the main job of grains for your body. Next are fruits, veggies, and legumes: While
grains are lower on the food pyramid, vegetables are the most important aspect of the diet
itself. It’s very important that around 7-10 servings
of vegetables or fruits are consumed per day. It is also important to eat a variety of fruits
and vegetables to get a wide amount of different vitamins and other nutrients. Some popular vegetables in the Mediterranean
diet and in Greece include tomatoes, zucchini, spinach, onions, garlic, and olives. Having a wide variety of vegetables in your
diet will guarantee that you aren’t missing any key vitamins or minerals in your diet. A lot of what I talked about with vegetables
goes the same with fruits in terms of variety. It is actually very common in Greece and in
other Mediterranean locations that fruit is eaten as a dessert because unlike other desserts
that we commonly eat in America, fruits have natural occurring sugars called fructose while
the sugars in ice cream and cookies are added in processed. So, you’re getting that sugar that your
body is craving but it’s a better substitute to added sugars. Legumes and nuts are the last part of this
pyramid level. Nuts are great as these on the go snacks that
you will need throughout the day. They contain healthy unsaturated fats while
also containing a surprisingly high amount of calories so they can give you a great boost
of energy in the middle of the day. But, since nuts do contain a high number of
calories, it’s important that you only eat about a handful of nuts so you aren’t gaining
weight by the end of the month instead of losing. Legumes such as beans are such an importance
to any diet around the world because they are the cheapest foods to buy to obtain protein. Olive oil is one of the most commonly known
parts of the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil is commonly used as a dressing for
vegetables while also being something to dip your bread in. Now, when I say olive oil, it may sound confusing
to some people because back in the 1980s, oils were being practically boycotted because
that was being blamed for the America’s obesity problem because of the high amount
of fats that they contain. Today, we have done more research that shows
that there are actually good fats that are healthy for us. These fats are called unsaturated fats. They are commonly found in olive oil as they
contain certain fatty acids that lower your cholesterol, blood clotting, and your blood
pressure. The fats that you want to avoid are trans
and saturated fats which contribute to heart disease. It’s important that “Extra Virgin” and
“Virgin” olive oils are purchased as they are the least processed and they contain the
most unsaturated fat. As we are talking about oils, keep in mind
it is very important to avoid butter as it is very high in saturated fat. It can be very tempting to use butter as an
additive to foods, olive oil is the substitute that should be used instead. Next we are going to talk about dairy. As Greek
yogurt has become America’s next health food, cheese and yogurt are an important part
of the Mediterranean Diet. Now, they are on the borderline of eating
on a daily to weekly basis, so you should not be consuming as much servings of Chobani
Greek yogurt as vegetables. Yogurt (Especially Greek yogurt) contains
a high amount of protein while also containing plentiful probiotics since there is live,
good bacteria inside the yogurt. The only problem with yogurt is that it contains
a high amount of saturated fat (Which I said earlier, is a bad fat). So, when eating yogurt, make sure to consume
low fat or fat free yogurt. Same thing applies to cheese. Some of the most popular cheeses that are
eaten in Greece are feta, manouri, and graviera. With the Mediterranean Diet being a huge part
in seaside countries, it’s no surprise that fish would play a part on the pyramid. Fish is considered one of the most healthy
proteins on this list because it also contains unsaturated fats that are found in olive oil
and nuts. The best way to cook fish is grilled because
it’s pretty easy and it’s the healthiest method without using any saturated oils to
cook. It is best that fish is eaten only a couple
of times a week so the vegetables and grains can be properly attributed to the meal. Salmon, tuna, herring, and trout are very
healthy choices for fish. We are now getting high enough on the pyramid
that the foods we are talking about are foods we shouldn’t be eating on a daily basis
or at all. Poultry is one of those foods that should
not be avoided, but they should not be eaten on a constant basis. While poultry is a good source of protein,
they do not provide anything else other than extra calories. Poultry doesn’t contain anything really
bad like red meat, but it should not be eaten on a daily basis. Sweets like ice cream, cookies, and candy
are not as commonly eaten in the Mediterranean as in the U.S. As I said, fruits are what are frequently
consumed at dessert. Because of this trend, sweets are usually
eaten in small portions during special occasions like birthdays or holidays. It is just best to avoid sweets that contain
high amounts of added sugars and saturated fat. Sweet fruits in the Mediterranean such as
dates and honey raisins are put into this category because of their high sugar content. While it’s expected that sweets are at the
top of pyramid, it can be puzzling for people that eat red meat on a daily basis to see
Red Meats above the sweets on the pyramid. Well, the truth is that red meat was never
really popular in areas that use the Mediterranean diet. In fact, red meat was only consumed back in
ancient times for holidays and the meat that they usually ate was lamb, not beef. So, meat just never became a regular thing
in the Mediterranean. It’s actually good that red meat is not
a big part of the Mediterranean diet because there have been studies that have linked eating
red meat to cancer. So, it’s probably best that red meat doesn’t
become your number one way of obtaining protein. With the drinking age in the United States
being 21 or over, that can send a bad message that alcoholic beverages bring no benefit
to your body whatsoever. But, it turns out that wine is actually a
healthy beverage that is widely consumed in Europe in moderation. There have been studies that show that wine
can actually help prevent heart disease. But again, drinking wine has to be in moderation. So, here are all of the foods that are a big
part of the Mediterranean diet and some that you should limit. If you noticed on the food pyramid, there’s
actually one more level that is on the bottom below grains. This level actually consists of exercise and
sleep. The Mediterranean lifestyle consisted of lots
of exercise and having a healthy amount of sleep each night. So, even if you eat the right foods for the
rest of your life, your body will never fully adapt to a healthy lifestyle if you aren’t
getting the right amount of exercise and sleep each day. So, in conclusion, today we learned about
the Mediterranean diet and all of its benefits that each food group contributes to your body. But, remember this, the Mediterranean diet
not only is a change in what you eat, but it’s a change in your overall lifestyle. Thanks for watching everybody and stay healthy!

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