Dive Deep into The Mediterranean Diet

By Emily Wei May 21, 2014

 

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The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional diet of people living along the Mediterranean coast (in countries such as Crete, Greece, and southern Italy). In contrast to the typical American diet, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes plant-based foods and monounsaturated (good/healthy) fat.

Researchers have found that deaths from chronic disease, such as heart disease and cancer, are significantly reduced among people who followed this heart-healthy eating plan. By limiting unhealthy fats, focusing on “every meal” foods, and staying physically active, the Mediterranean diet appears to increase longevity and have strong cardiovascular benefits.


We are excited to announce that InsideTracker is now offering the Mediterranean diet as a new Meal/Diet preference option. InsideTracker is all about personalized health, and we believe this additional customization is another way to help you reach your lifestyle, exercise, and dietary goals. 

 

"What do I eat on the Mediterranean diet?"

Every meal

Fruits and vegetables should be consumed frequently and in abundance. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to obtain key nutrients such as fiber and potassium, and antioxidants including vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

Grains contain fiber, several B vitamins, and minerals, such as iron, magnesium, and selenium. Choose whole grains, rather than refined grains, which can help with weight management and to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Olive oil is the primary source of dietary fat in the Mediterranean diet: Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, a healthy type of fat that can help to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and to increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. Replace butter and margarine, which are high in saturated and trans fats, with olive oil.

Beans are high in fiber and protein, which help keep you feeling full, and are also a great source of minerals, such as copper, folate, iron, magnesium, and zinc.

Nuts are high in heart-healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.  They are also high in fiber, and a range of vitamins, such as vitamin E. As they are calorically dense, consume only about a handful of nuts daily. Avoid candied, highly salted, or honey-roasted nuts.

Legumes and seeds are high in protein and fiber, and help keep you satiated. They also help regulate blood sugar levels.

Herbs and spices should be used to flavor foods in place of salt. Many Americans intake far too much sodium. Herbs and spices have health benefits, such as antioxidants, and they curb inflammation. They can also enhance the experience of food without increasing fat, salt, or sugar content.

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Often (at least twice a week)

Fish and seafood are rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which confer heart-healthy benefits.

Wine (alongside meals) is optional. It should be consumed in moderation, which is one drink per day for women, and two drinks per day for men.

 

Moderate (on a weekly basis)

Poultry can be consumed up to twice weekly in low-to-moderate amounts.

Eggs are eaten less frequently; the Mediterranean diet suggests consuming no more than four eggs weekly.

Dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, are often high in saturated fat. Have no more than two servings per day.

 

Less often (no more than once per week)

Red meat: Aim for no more than 3-4 servings of red meat (such as pork, lamb, veal, or beef) per month.

Sweets are usually high in added sugar and saturated fat.  Try to limit sweets, and to make fresh fruit your daily dessert.

 

The importance of lifestyle

The Mediterranean diet also emphasizes the significance of regular physical activity. Being physically active is essential to your heart health and imperative to living a healthy and happy life!

 

Enjoying meals

In today’s society, it is not uncommon for us to scarf down some grub before jetting off to the next task, or to be parked in front of the television during dinnertime. The Mediterranean diet strongly encourages that people take time to share meals with others, and to enjoy and appreciate eating healthy meals. Taking time to prepare and enjoy meals will not only help improve eating habits, and overall health, but will also enhance the experience of the joy that is food.

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