Are you aware of the health benefits of Mediterranean diet plans? While these foods have been consumed for thousands of years, it was not until relatively recently that scientists began appreciating the positive ways in which such a lifestyle can impact the body. Although there are plenty of Mediterranean diet recipes for weight loss, it is just as important to take a closer look at what makes these foods so unique. You can then begin to make positive changes in order to achieve your short and long-term goals.
What Types of Foods Define a Mediterranean Diet?
This type of diet mainly centers around the foods consumed by traditional peoples such as the Greeks, the Iberians, and the Italians. There are several core foods which serve as the foundation for a Mediterranean diet including:
- Herbs and spices.
- Olive oil.
As we can see, this tends to represent a plant-based diet; often ideal for those who have already embraced a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. It is nonetheless important to note that meat and fish are often included within this type of cuisine. For example, fish will often be present when consuming foods from Andalusia while cured ham is common within regions such as southern France and Catalonia.
What are the "Nine Points of a Mediterranean Diet?
Mediterranean diets are often rated with a nine-point scale. Each point represents a certain type of food which should be consumed on a daily basis. Here is a breakdown of these points in relation to their individual components:
- Fruits and nuts.
- Dairy products.
- Grains and cereals.
- Alcohol (consumed rarely and normally in the form of wine).
As we can already see, many of these substances directly correlate with the foods that have been used to traditionally define a Mediterranean diet. Consuming one serving from each category above would result in a score of nine. Unhealthy diets (such as those often associated with western lifestyles) would score much lower; perhaps even a zero.
What are the Health Benefits of Mediterranean Diet Plans?
This diet can offer a plethora of health benefits. Some of these are more apparent than others. For instance, many individuals will adopt a low carb Mediterranean diet to reduce their caloric intake and ultimately, to lose weight. This is actually quite easy, as this diet is largely comprised of plant-based foods.
Another notable advantage involves the use of specific oils when cooking foods. Cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil is perhaps the most notable example. Olive oil has been shown to increase levels of LDL (“good”) cholesterol within the bloodstream and to combat hypertension (high blood pressure). Some other benefits of Mediterranean-style diets include:
- Reducing the chances of developing heart disease.
- Healthier hair, skin and nails.
- A more youthful appearance.
- Anti-inflammatory benefits (important for those who may be concerned about illnesses such as fibromyalgia or arthritis).
So, it only makes sense that this lifestyle has become extremely popular in recent times.
Is a Vegan Mediterranean Diet Better Than One Associated with Meats?
This is an interesting question and unlike many western diet trends, a vegan lifestyle is quite easy to support when consuming Mediterranean foods. Nuts, seeds and legumes all contain appreciable amounts of protein, providing the body the nutrients that it requires to function properly. In other words, a vegan diet is not necessarily “better”. It is rather another option to consider.
Are There Any Downsides to a Mediterranean Diet?
We should still point out that some possible pitfalls exist. For instance, this type of diet does not place an emphasis upon dairy products. Individuals may therefore not receive adequate doses of calcium. Furthermore, those who eliminate meat and fish entirely could suffer from low levels of iron (women in particular).
However, these risks can be mitigated by creating a healthy diet plan and by varying the foods that you eat on a regular basis. If you have recently obtained a Spatz3 adjustable gastric balloon and are hoping to make further positive lifestyle changes, this type of diet could represent a breath of fresh air. There are many health benefits of Mediterranean diet plans, so why not embrace a bit of change?