One of the most popular diets over the past twelve to fifteen years has been the Mediterranean diet. This diet has definitely survived the label of “fad,” as it is still around and even growing in popularity, and “gimmick” is not a very accurate term since the Mediterranean diet is a full sized program that does not cheat you of any food group, but simply makes wiser choices in each category of the food pyramid. Getting a precise, specific definition of the Mediterranean diet is a little difficult because the term Mediterranean keeps it from applying to just one country. The Mediterranean diet still refers to the general traditional diets from the people living in the 1960’s in countries like Greece, and Southern Italy.
The reason these nations in particular were being studied was because of the really noticeably low incidence of chronic diseases, not to mention the consistently amazingly high life-expectancy rates among the groups that stayed with this traditional diet. What is even more amazing when nutritionists realized that the traditional Mediterranean diet receives as much as 40% of all its calories from fat. Despite this, heart attacks were much rarer in this population than in about any other.
Part of the reason for this is olive oil. Olive oil is a “monosaturated fatty acid,” which means that it does not have the same cholesterol-raising effect of saturated fats. Olive oil is also a good source of antioxidants. Eating fish a few times per week benefits the Mediterranean people by increasing the amount of “Omega-3 fatty acids,” which is something that no other developed European society got enough of. The other part of the Mediterranean diet is that they eat far less red meat, but more grains, fruits, legumes, vegetables, and olive oil. This makes their diet much healthier than any North American or other European diet.
This diet is rich in healthy fats from fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds, and there are an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, too. This diet is a rich source of essential fatty acids and antioxidants, a combination which can help improve cholesterol levels and protect heart health. If you decide to pursue this diet, you can expect to eat a lot of yogurt with fruit and nuts, Pasta salad and fruit, fish with roast vegetables, Crackers and hummus, and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. The result of this is that you will increase your essential fatty acids with plenty of fish and healthy fats, lower your intake of red meat and processed foods, and improve cholesterol levels and lower risk of heart disease. Not a bad deal, huh? This is a diet that continues to be popular because it still allows for meat, pasta, taste, but it will lead you to a longer and healthier life. This is one proven diet that is here to stay.
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