Quite a few of you have asked recently ‘how can a Mediterranean diet, with its high consumption of olive oil and carb rich foods be healthy and aid weight loss?
We are constantly bombarded with health advice that tends to focus on a single component rather the overall pattern of our diets. The villains du jour are gluten and sugar, not long ago it was salt and before that it was fat. But by focussing on single ingredients we risk missing the bigger picture. While it is good to highlight the negative effects that excessive consumption of sugar can have on our health there is no doubt that a whole diet approach, whatever its name, is a more helpful way to look at our eating habits and food choices.
And that’s the beauty of way people eat in the Mediterranean countries. Their diet is based on an entire dietary pattern with no particular focus on any single nutrients. It is the polar opposite of a conventional diet, simply a different way of eating.
What does a Mediterranean diet consist of?
Everything that is referred to as healthy choices is included in the Mediterranean diet:
- Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables
- Lots of wholegrain and pulses
- Regular consumption of healthy fats from natural sources like olive oil, fish, nuts and seeds
- Moderate amounts of meat and dairy
- Almost total absence of processed food and sugar-laden drinks.
How easy it is to adopt this lifestyle?
Very easy, you really don’t need to make massive changes to your lifestyle, as illustrated in this cool infographic. Without the need to cut out entire food groups, this positive whole diet approach is much easier to follow and stick to both at home and when eating out. And as it’s based on some of the best-loved cuisines in the world, you won’t struggle to find all the ingredients you need in your local store either.
What are the health benefits?
Research over the last 50 years shows that a Mediterranean style diet is associated with remarkable health outcomes including lower risk of developing type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, raised levels of cholesterol as well as increased life span and better weight management.
There is growing scientific evidence that a Mediterranean style diet, rich in olive oil, fish and vegetables may be beneficial for brain function and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
There is no evidence that these health benefits are down to a specific ingredient or food group but rather to the combination of different foods. This makes absolute sense, as we know that simply adding a single ‘superfood’ to an otherwise unhealthy western style diet will produce no real health benefits.
Are you tempted to give the whole-diet approach a go? Do you have a taste for Mediterranean food? Let us take you through a culinary whistle-stop tour of the Med with our traditional Mediterranean recipe collection.