Friday, March 1, 2013

Mediterranean Diet Craze


The Mediterranean Diet calls for plenty of
fruits and veggies every day.
Image: Shutterstock

It seems like all I’ve been reading about in the past few days are the Oscars and the Mediterranean diet. I didn’t watch the Oscars, but I’ll admit I jealously perused all the gorgeous gowns afterwards. And of course once I was done with that, I could move on to reading about the Mediterranean diet.

Of course, I’d heard of it before, but I had never looked into the specifics. Now it’s all the craze. That’s because a recent study confirmed that eating a Mediterranean diet can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease. A survey of about 1.5 million healthy adults showed that those who ate Mediterranean diets had a reduced incidence of not just heart disease, but also cancer, cancer mortality, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

These are the key components of the Mediterranean diet, according to the Mayo Clinic (information taken directly from their site):
The Mediterranean Hierarchy
The Mediterranean Hierarchy
Image from diet-blog.com
  • Getting plenty of exercise
  • Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
  • Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
  • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
  • Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)

Part of what makes the diet so great is that it is very low in LDL cholesterol, which we call “bad” cholesterol. It also has a good amount of healthy fats in it, which come mostly from nuts and fish. Grains are not avoided in this diet; rather, whole grains are eaten in moderation.

Mediterranean cookbook, Cook Yourself Sexy
Mediterranean cookbook, Cook Yourself Sexy
Image from candicekumai.com
The hierarchy of foods is laid out like this: on the first tier (largest) are olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables, and whole grains; on the second tier (middle) are fish and poultry; and on the third (smallest) tier are red meats, dairy, processed meats, and sweets.

“The fear of fat is so 1980s,” said Candice Kumai, author of Cook Yourself Sexy. “That’s not what’s making you fat. It’s the overconsumption of grains, heavy meats, the wrong type of fats, refined sugar and processed foods.” Kumai’s new book features Mediterranean recipes like Lox, Caper and Rocket Salad; Roasted Tomatoes with Barley; Clams in White Wine Sauce Over Linguine; and Cherry-Pistachio Biscotti—all full of nutrients and omega-3s. Yum!

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