Learning from a Mediterranean diet

By | August 12, 2012

mediterranean diet pyramid

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

In my quest to be healthy and fit, I have NOT been looking for a diet, at least not in the common usage where it is associated with a desire for weight loss. In fact, weight loss is not a concern of mine at all. What I am concerned about are tips on ways of eating that  lend to health. As part of this search, I have heard a few people mention a Mediterranean diet as part of their comments on healthy eating. These references made me curious to learn more, so I did. One of the first things I learned is that this diet is not just the latest fad or idea in the mind of some sort of expert, but it is an observation of what has been done for hundreds of years and has stood the test of time. So, what is the Mediterranean diet all about.

Here is a summary of the Mediterranean diet from Wikipedia:

The principal aspects of this diet include high olive oil consumption, high consumption of legumes, high consumption of unrefined cereals, high consumption of fruits, high consumption of vegetables, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate to high consumption of fish, low consumption of meat and meat products, and moderate wine consumption.

Olive oil is particularly characteristic of the Mediterranean diet. It contains a very high level of monounsaturated fats, most notably oleic acid, which epidemiological studies suggest may be linked to a reduction in coronary heart disease risk. There is also evidence that the antioxidants in olive oil improve cholesterol regulation and LDL cholesterol reduction, and that it has other anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive effects.

Also add to this diet consumption of at least six glasses of water a day and daily physical activity.

This way of eating seems to make a lot of sense.  In many ways, it is similar to many other pyramids I have seen. I think the part that intrigues me the most is the heavy use of olive oil. This definitely seems unique. I like how it emphasizes daily physical activity. The part about more fruits, vegetables, and nuts than poultry and fish is consistent with other diets and the strong de-emphasizing of meats like beef,  pork, and sweets goes right along with what I have learned in other research, so it rings really true with all that I have learned.

There are so many ideas on what you need to do to be healthy, what to eat, and what not to eat that it is easy to be overwhelmed. Sometimes I feel like giving up because there is always someone that says something is bad for you. At the same time, I really believe that there are good and bad things for you. We might not know everything, but it is certainly worth the attempt to figure these things out. With the Mediterranean diet, it is one more source of validation of what many are already saying. For me, it says do what I have already learned to do and use a bit more olive oil in what I am eating.



I was just watching a YoutTube video by Andrew Weil, M.D. titled “Real Food: The Best Diet.” He suggests that the Mediterranean diet is a good starting place for healthy eating. I like hearing this because it is just one more argument for the benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

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