So, your health is what worries you? Trying to improve your life just that little bit more? Then a modified Mediterranean diet may be your magic potion. The Mediterranean diet is renowned for the anti-aging effect it gives and as surveys have shown, it in fact makes one appear younger and healthy over time. Research indicates that the Mediterranean diet has also been responsible for markedly reducing the occurrence of cancer and heart disease in the Mediterranean region and in various studies.
Hmm…So what constitutes this youth potion?
A modified Mediterranean diet consists of lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals; moderate amounts of fish, much less saturated fat but lots of unsaturated fat like olive oil; less dairy products and meat but only a modest intake of alcohol, basically red wine.
As you can see, this is really not a magic potion but a sensible way to eat. It is their cooking methods, recipes and flavours that make this diet so magical.
How to eat them?
First we need to look at why we eat them.
– Lots of fruits and vegetables are recommended in this diet. This is because they can give you the fibre that our body craves for. Fruits and vegetables are, in fact, a rich source of all types of nutrients that are essential for the body. By eating those, we end up getting all the vital elements required to our aging body. Eat them raw or minimally cooked. This would keep the nutrients intact.
– Fish is recommended. To be precise, oily fish is the best because it gives the required proteins to the body. Not only that, it provides omega-3 and is a good source for revitalizing your cells.
– Saturated oil must be avoided. Instead, unsaturated fat is recommended, especially olive oil. Olive oil is highly recommended for the following reasons:
– It is a monounsaturated fat and it is a good source of anti-oxidants. This would be a great way to reduce the high content of fat we take when we use other oils like vegetable oils.
– The saturated oils also interfere with the omega-3 functioning and may lead to serious issues like blood clotting and other cardiovascular problems.
– It has also been noted that the use of olive oil decreases the incidence of atherosclerosis.
– Dairy products are used in moderation but skimmed milk products, goat’s milk, feta cheese etc. are preferred.
Some do’s and don’ts
o Have lots of food from plants. All kinds of vegetables should be eaten and as mentioned above should be steamed or lightly cooked not boiled to death. Over cooking them serves no purpose as they wipe out all the nutrients. This is because the high fibre and anti-oxidants they contain can often be destroyed or reduced by too much heat. Blue leafy vegetables and those that are grown above the ground like beans, nuts, etc. are also high recommended.
o Vegetables grown underground like potatoes may also be used from time to time.
o Eggs in moderation, say one egg daily is acceptable.
o Avoid sugar at all costs. High processed sugar levels in the body would only increase your chances for diseases like diabetes or worse heart problems.
o Red meat should be eaten only from time to time. Try to make it a once in a week.
o Cooking oils – in this case stick to olive oil as much as you can. Make it a regular thing in your kitchen. Extra virgin olive oil (green color) is the best
o Intake of oily fish should be around once or twice in a week mainly for the omega-3 it gives you.
Do not confuse the modified Mediterranean diet with diets that reduce weight only. Mediterranean diets have many benefits but they are not ‘out of a pack’ like some fad diets. You may have heard about the weight loss some people have achieved on this diet. Well, this outcome is based on the fact that it is a much healthier diet than most, which in itself encourages weight loss almost by default. To lose weight on the Mediterranean diet, you should stick to it and you would be well advised to consider exercise and refrain from over indulging. There is no magic here. However, the facts and figures from many studies show that using a Mediterranean diet cookbook regularly will benefit your health immensely. You should exercise daily no matter what diet you undertake. Walking is fine. You would be smart to include your doctor on any diet decision you make.