The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that is followed by countries around the Mediterranean Sea, such as Italy, Spain, Greece, France and Morocco . While the Mediterranean diet can be different from place to place. It is for the best diet one can adopt anywhere in the world including South Africa. The Mediterranean diet focuses on a healthy lifestyle or pattern, which includes; being active, getting enough rest, sharing meals with family and friends.
There are health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet such as:
- Help reduce your risk of developing heart disease
Help to lower blood cholesterol levels
- Help to lower blood pressure
- Help to improve blood glucose (sugar) control for individuals with type
What are foods that are a part if the Mediterranean diet:
- Vegetables and fruit
- Whole grains legumes (dried beans, peas and lentils)
- Nuts and seeds and olives
- Fish and poultry eaten in moderate amounts
- Small amounts of red meat
- Olive oil, as the main source of fat
- Moderate consumption of wine, mainly with meals.
How to actually execute the Mediterranean diet:
Choose plant-based foods most often
Eat a variety of raw and cooked plant-based foods. They are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Include whole grains and fruit at each meal. Choose whole grains such as brown rice, barley, oats and quinoa. Include whole grain couscous, wheat and rye bread and products made with whole grain flour. Eat legumes (dried beans, peas and lentils) at least twice a week. I prepare broth-based soups and salads with brown or green lentils, chickpeas, black or kidney beans. Dip vegetables or bread into hummus, white or black bean dip.
Eat a variety of fruits such as berries, apples, pears, melon, plums, peaches and bananas. Include vegetables at lunch and dinner every day. Choose a variety of colours and types of vegetables such as tomatoes, spinach, peppers, zucchini and eggplant. Eat three or less servings per week of potatoes. Avoid potatoes that are fried. Cook vegetables in a variety of ways. Roast, sauté, steam and add them to soups. Eat at least one serving of raw vegetables each day, such as green leafy salads or cut-up vegetables like carrot sticks and cucumber slices. Eat olives, unsalted nuts and seeds every day. Sprinkle a handful of unsalted almonds, walnuts or sunflower seeds onto salads. Add diced olives to salads, stews or sandwiches.
Drink plenty of fluids. Aim for 1.5 to 2.0 L (6 to 8 cups) of fluid every day.
Ways to do this include: Drink regular tea, herbal tea or coffee without sugar. ¡ Have broth (low fat and low sodium). Put a jug of tap water on the table during each meal as a reminder to drink. Keep a glass of water at your desk or have a water bottle close by.
Use olive oil to cook and add flavour to foods. Aim for at least 15 mL (1 Tbsp) of olive oil each day. Extra virgin olive oil has more antioxidants than other types of olive oil and is the most flavourful. ¡ Use olive oil when you sauté, grill, roast, pan-fry, stir-fry and bake. Drizzle olive oil on vegetables, salads, bread, toast and other dishes
Flavour food with spices, herbs, garlic and onions instead of salt. Flavour foods with herbs such as rosemary, oregano, parsley, basil and mint. Mix spices like paprika, black pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg into dishes that need extra flavour. Top soups, stews and other dishes with chopped or minced garlic and onion
Include low fat milk and servings of low fat milk (skim, 1%, 2%), lower fat alternatives daily. l Choose two
Choose red meat and processed meat less often. Examples of red meat include goat, beef, pork and lamb. Limit processed meat to a maximum of one serving each week. Examples of processed meat are hot dogs, sausages, deli meats, salami and bacon. Replace red and processed meat with lean white meat, legumes (dried peas and lentils), eggs, fish or seafood. Include up to two to four eggs every week. l Prepare omelets, scrambled or boiled eggs. Use eggs in baking or cooking or adding to salads and casseroles. Choose lean white meat at least 2 times a week. Include lean white meat such as chicken, turkey or rabbit.
If you drink wine, limit to moderate amounts with meals. This means about one glass per day for women and two glasses per day for men. One serving of wine is: ¡ 142 mL glass of 12% wine. You do not have to drink alcohol to follow a Mediterranean diet.
Limit sweets. Limit sweets such as candies, pastries, desserts and sweetened pop or sweetened juice to two servings per week or less, or save them for
Yours in Health,
Mbali Mapholi – Dietitian