What Food Choices Make up a Mediterranean Diet?

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When you think about Mediterranean food do you think of pitta, lasagna, plenty of white bread, lamb and pizza? If so, you are missing the point.

The Mediterranean Diet, proved time and again to lead to less disease, a healthier heart, better brain function and a multitude of other health benefits, has been misrepresented in recent years. A true healthy Mediterranean Diet is based on the eating habits of Greece, Crete and Southern Italy of around 1960.

That diet is based on whole foods, plants and vegetables. To these basic essentials small portions of lean, healthy meat can be added, as well as seafood 2 or 3 times a week. The idea is that good fats replace bad ones, and you should always eat a breakfast rich in high-fibre foods, fruits and whole grains.Though allowed,daily products, are used in limited amounts.

Below are a few popular food choices which make up a healthy Mediterranean-style diet.

Whole wheat, whole grains and oats
Good fats like extra-virgin olive oil, sunflower seeds, nuts and avocados
Fish like salmon and sardines, tuna and herring
Shellfish, such as clams, oysters and mussels
Herbs and natural spices
Fruits and vegetables of all kinds
Whole foods (foods that are as close to their natural state as possible)
Foods you should avoid or eat less

An understanding of your eating options also means knowing what foods you should avoid, or simply cut back on. If you limit your intake of the following food items and components, and you will be making smart Mediterranean food choices.

Fast food and fried food
Processed and red meat
Products made with white flour
Refined sugar
Bad fats like hydrogenated oils, saturated fats and trans fats
Butter, margarine and lard
Salt
Monosodium glutamate (MSG is found in up to 80% of all processed food)the
Isn’t this rather too strict a diet?

It doesn’t have to be.You can see the above are foods to avoid or eat less of and are not all strictly forbidden. Eating red meat a few times a month is considered alright. And sea salt can be used in limited quantities since it is not processed like table salt. Essentially, it is important to focus on eating more fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains, and less processed and refined food, salt, sugar and unhealthy fats.The wide variety of foods available and good for you means that the diet is not boring.

Gina Crawford has written a comprehensive guide to the real deal Mediterranean Diet with many delicious and easy to produce recipes.

Making smart food choices is the basis of the Mediterranean Diet. Before you prepare your next meal, be honest with yourself. Is your diet primarily whole food, plant and vegetable-based? Does it substitute healthy fats for bad fats? Will it ensure that you eat fish 2 or 3 times each week, and red meat no more than 2 or 3 times a month? If so, you are well on your way to choosing the foods found in a Mediterranean-style diet that lead to fewer diseases and better overall health.

 

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