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Why is the Mediterranean Diet So Healthy

People living in the area of the Mediterranean Sea enjoy robust health. Researchers have pinpointed their diet as one of, if not the main, reason(s). Even though there are a number of different countries in this region, and their diets differ somewhat, there are enough similarities that a "Mediterranean Diet" has been identified. The basic tenents of the diet are as follows:

  • Concentrate mainly on minimally processed fresh food from plant sources like vegetables, fruits, bread, beans, and nuts and seeds.
  • Eliminate all sources of added fat except olive oil, which is used liberally.
  • Consume poultry once or twice a week
  • Minimize or eliminate dairy foods, with the exception of cheese and yogurt, which can be eaten in moderate to low amounts.
  • Eat fish one to three times a week
  • Eggs in moderation are ok
  • Minimize red meat, eating it a few times a month at most.
  • If dessert is desired, replace processed sweets with fresh fruit.
  • For those who enjoy wine, moderate consumption with meals is ok - limit it to one to two glasses per day for males and one glass per day for females.

Scientists feel one of the main reasons for the health benefits of the diet is the liberal use of olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil has many benefits. It's a monounsaturated fat that's also a source of beneficial antioxidants and it's been shown to have value in combatting or controlling heart disease, some forms of cancer, diabetes, the pain of arthritis, and much more.

Of course, the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables have been well documented over the past few years, and everyone's heard of the advantages of the Omega-3 fats that come from fish, plus much press coverage has been devoted to the possible health benefits of drinking wine, so there are many other healthy components to the Mediterranean diet.

One caveat is that if you wish to lose weight on the Mediterranean diet, you're going to have to practice portion control. Because of the liberal use of olive oil, the diet tends to be higher in calories per serving that your typical "weight loss" diet. But don't think you have to starve yourself. You just have to lose the "supersize me" mentality.

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