Updated: May 29
The Mediterranean diet has become a healthy eating option for many of us, but how much do we actually know about what it involves, and how to switch our eating habits to the Mediterranean way.
A typical Mediterranean diet has lots of vegetables, fruits, beans, herbs, cereals and cereal products, such as wholegrain bread, pasta and brown rice. Fish, white meat and some dairy produce are also features of a Mediterranean diet. Olive oil (a monounsaturated fat) is a key ingredient and nuts, seeds and oily fish add polyunsaturated fats. These items may be considered healthy on their own, but it's the combination of these ingredients that makes the Mediterranean diet such a healthy way to eat. #mediterraneandiet
The health benefits have been highlighted in a number of research studies. A study by the American College of Cardiology found that the Mediterranean diet cut the risk of heart disease by nearly half!
Another study published by the British Journal of Nutrition found that the closer the adherence to a Mediterranean diet there was an associated lowering of the risk of death from any cause.
Although it’s referred to as a “diet” it’s not a diet in the sense of telling you what you can and can’t eat. It’s much more about adopting a lifestyle that encourages consuming all food groups but gives more weight to those which have the most health benefits and eating some in moderation.
The Mediterranean diet Pyramid created by Oldways (a food and nutrition non-profit organisation) is a good way to demonstrate how the various food groups combine to provide a healthy diet. Items at the top of the pyramid should be eaten less often and in moderation. Those at the bottom of the pyramid being food that should form the basis of every meal.
In summary the Pyramid shows:
Core foods to enjoy every day: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, herbs, spices, nuts and healthy fats such as olive oil.
Twice weekly servings of fish and seafood.
Moderate portions of dairy foods, eggs, and occasional poultry.
Infrequent servings of red meats and sweets.
Lifestyle is also important to the Mediterranean diet with an emphasis on the benefits of daily physical exercise and eating with family and friends
As you can see from the Pyramid, you don’t have to completely overhaul your diet to get the benefits from the Mediterranean way – you can still enjoy bread and even alcohol for example - you just need to consume them in moderation.
Every Day Health suggests the following as examples of the swaps you can make that will help you switch to a more healthy, Mediterranean diet.
Swap beef for salmon
Swap Butter for Olive Oil
Swap Beer for Red Wine
Swap Rolls for whole wheat pita
Swap Jam for Berries
Swap Salt for herbs and spices
Swap Mayo for Avocado
Swap Granola bars for a nut mix
Swap Turkey for beans
heartuk.org.uk advise Eating less of these:
White bread, pasta, rice
Sweet biscuits, cakes
Sausages, burgers, fatty meat
High fat cheese, cream, milk
More of these:
Olive, rapeseed and sunflower oils
Olive oil and sunflower spreads
Wholegrain breads, brown pasta, brown rice
Porridge, oat based cereals, wheat biscuits, muesli
Unsalted nuts, dried and fresh fruit
Lentils, beans, peas
Meals made from basic fresh ingredients
Lean meat, seafood and oily fish
Reduced fat dairy foods, soya and other dairy alternatives
All these products are available in the ChefMéd Store along with great deals on Pasta, Fruit & Veg boxes, fresh, frozen and smoked fish, and a wide range of Italian wines. Use the CHEFMED10 code to benefit from a 10% discount at Fish to your Door and Wine it.
Have you switched to the Mediterranean Diet? - Let us know about your experience.
Are you thinking of making the change to this more healthy diet? - What's holding you back?
If you have reservations about switching to the Mediterranean Diet or any questions leave a comment below.
We want to hear from you!