Although many people all over the world are proclaiming the health benefits of following a Mediterranean Diet Plan to prevent artery disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes type 2, and much more, there is still some confusion about what this diet consists of. And that is in part because at times, different dietary plans are presented to us disguised as an Authentic Mediterranean Diet when the reality is that they have very little to do with it.
But before reading this article I would like you to answer the following question: How many times a week do you eat meat and how often do you eat vegetables? If the scale leans towards the meat, you are not following a Authentic Mediterranean Diet but a diet with an excess of proteins that may not be too healthy.
The following 10 points have the purpose of helping you prevent any further confusion while bringing to you the bases of one of the healthiest diets, the Authentic Mediterranean Diet.
1. Don’t miss breakfast and have a snack in the afternoon
Research conducted worldwide has shown that skipping meals, both in the morning and the afternoon, results in our organism becoming slower, trying to compensate for the food it did not receive.
2. It is possible to eat healthy and balance snacks
If you opt for snacks that come in bags, be very careful with the quality and the portions. If you feel you are getting hooked on them, opt for a handful of nuts, a boiled potato with aromatic herbs, vegetable sticks with yogurt ….
3. Don’t eat too much meat
Studies conducted by many worldwide associations have shown that the consumption of meat in Western societies surpasses that of any other food. The result is that in many cases we ingest an excess of proteins that may not be too healthy.
4. Eat fish almost daily
Fish is rich is proteins, vitamins and minerals such as iron, phosphorous, iodine, all needed for the good functioning of our body. Fish also contains Omega-3 fats, the right kind of fat for the heart and the brain. Introduce at least twice a week fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, or mackerel. Prepare fish grilled or baked, never fried.
5. Dry beans three or four times a week
The idea that dry beans can make us gain weight has circulated around for years. That is not true. Of course, if you prepare legumes with fatty meats such as sausages, its calories will go up. However, just to give you an idea, a spoon of cooked lentils, about 20 grams, has only 39 calories.
6. The Jewel of the Mediterranean: Olive oil
Avoid saturated fat and trans fats. Use olive oil as your main source of fat, both to cook and as dressing for your salads. Olive oil does not stick to your arteries and have many antioxidants, including vitamin E, necessary for the health of our cells. Use extra virgin olive oil, never the refined varieties. Try not to eat more than 3 spoons a day since after all, olive oil is a fat and as all fats, it contributes with 9 calories per gram.
7. Include something raw in every meal
Observe the recommendation of eating fruit and vegetables every day. We know that including a minimum of 5 pieces a day is the way to ingest the antioxidants that allow our body to stay young, with less heart problems and with exceptional defenses against disease.
8. Aromatic herbs for flavor
Use the good culinary herbs from the Mediterranean basin: rosemary, basil, bay leaves, thyme, saffron, oregano, or coriander in your meals. They can replace salt for flavor while they contribute with many vitamins and minerals essential for good health.
9. Nuts contribute high quality nutrients
A study conducted by Predimed states that people who include nuts in a Mediterranean diet gain less weight than people who don’t incorporate them in their diet and have less cardiovascular problems. Just the opposite of what most people think.
10. Cereals and potatoes
Cereals such as wheat, rye, oats, rice and potatoes are important pillars of the Mediterranean Diet and we need to eat them every day. Try to include them as side dishes with other foods that are higher in calories. Buy whole grains because their fiber not only cleans your intestines but the portion of soluble fiber helps lower your cholesterol.
A Mediterranean Diet Plan has been proven by scientific research to reduce the risk of artery disease because although each component of this diet contributes with an array of benefits on its own, it’s the combination of all of them that makes this diet so powerful. To learn the ins-and-outs of the Authentic Mediterranean Diet and the Mediterranean Cuisine, check out my book; I wrote it explicitly to help you fully apply the Mediterranean principles into your life and those of your loved ones. Enjoy a healthy day while pampering your heart; you need it to keep you going!