left: Mediterranean Salad

A healthy diet can help one maintain an optimal weight and avoid possible health problems. Contrary to popular opinion, a healthy diet is not about strict dietary restrictions or limiting the amount of food that you love.

Let us introduce you to a healthy diet that you can try out – The Mediterranean Diet.

The Mediterranean diet features healthy food and ingredients traditionally enjoyed by people in countries around the Mediterranean Sea including Greece, Spain, Morocco, Turkey and Tunisia. The diet is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, potatoes, nuts and seeds. The diet also features hefty amounts of olive oil and red wine, along with moderate amounts of fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy. Red meat is rarely eaten. Daily exercise is also a vital element of the diet. Other lifestyle practices synonymous with the diet include sharing meals with others and fostering a deep appreciation for the pleasures of eating healthy but delicious foods.

Credit: Oldways Preservation and Exchange

The Mediterranean pyramid is a notable guide recognized for promoting lifelong good health. It is widely used by consumers, educators and health professionals to implement healthier eating habits . The pyramid was based on the dietary traditions of Crete, Greece and southern Italy during the 1960s. During this period, chronic disease rates in these countries were among the lowest when compared to other countries and adult life expectancy was among the highest despite limited medical services.

The Mediterranean diet has only recently gained popularity outside of its home, after it became recognized as a good way to improve health and prevent disease. Studies found that people who follow traditional Mediterranean lifestyle practices are healthier, leaner and live longer than people who follow typical Western dietary and lifestyle practices.

The Lyon Diet Heart Study was conducted to investigate the effects that the Mediterranean diet had on cardiovascular diseases. The researchers randomly divided 605 male and female heart attack survivors into two groups. One group was advised to eat the standard low-fat diet suggested for heart patients. The other group was advised to follow the Mediterranean dietary guidelines. The findings revealed that the people who followed the Mediterranean diet had a 70 percent lower death rate compared to those following the low-fat diet. The researchers also found that cancer rates among the Mediterranean group were 61 percent lower than those of the other group.

The Mediterranean diet emphasises foods that are low in fat and cholesterol but high in fibre. Reducing total fat is one of the easiest ways to trim calories, because fat has more than twice the calories as compared to carbohydrates or protein. Additionally, meals rich in lean protein and fibre are more filling and satisfying. Most foods included in the Mediterranean diet are fresh rather than highly processed. Cooking methods tend to be simple; foods are rarely deep-fried. The wide variety of foods makes it easy to stay with the Mediterranean diet for the long run. However, it is important to watch the portions of food consumed. Consuming an excess of high-calorie food such as nuts and olive oil can be detrimental to the diet.

Give the Mediterranean diet a shot if you are looking for a healthy diet. Over time, you will find that the Mediterranean diet could become a natural part of your life. Now,

Who says you cannot have delicious and healthy food while on a diet?