Healthy living with the Mediterranean diet

August 13, 2011

Healthy living is becoming a major trend nowadays because of the health hazards one may face with maintaining an unhealthy lifestyle. Some statistics suggest that conditions such as cancer, heart diseases and diabetes are influenced by life style and account for a significant number of deaths in USA. All these can be prevented or risk of them can be decreased with a healthier diet and lifestyle. With that in mind, people are resorting to adopting a number of different healthier diet methods. The one diet that a lot of people recognize as a healthier diet that prolongs life is the Mediterranean diet.

mediterranean diet food

Origins of Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is a diet which has originated from the countries around the Mediterranean basin. These include (among others) Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain. People in these countries have been using this kind of diet for a long time not necessarily because of its health benefits. Even though there is diversity in food preparation between countries, due to different cultures, the basic principles have emerged into one diet style and they call it the Mediterranean diet. What makes the Mediterranean diet to be placed in a distinct position amongst other diets is the food pyramid or food items included. It basically follows one rule: “Natural food items as much as possible or 90 percent of the time”.

Mediterranean diet food components

The Mediterranean diet includes natural food items to promote healthy living. The list includes fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains (i.e. for bread and pasta), olive oil as a healthier source of fat, meat (taken in small quantities and it should be lean), fish, seafood, red wine in moderation, and organic flavorings such as basil, oregano, lemon, rosemary, garlic, mint and other herbs. As you can see, all these are basically natural food items and you can perhaps have processed or synthesized products only if they are really needed. Food preparations are somehow unique and they boast to have pleasurable and also practical recipes. This can hold true since you can choose from a wide variety and large amount of recipes as part of the diet, not to mention the different unique preparations from each country.

Take note that this can be hard when you first start the diet, especially if you are a usual meat lover or processed food lover. But if you enjoy a glass of wine with your dinner or if you appreciate good quality meal then the Mediterranean diet can be for you. But you will never know if you don’t try it right?

Mediterranean diet health benefits

Now you might be wondering how these food items are said to prevent all those diseases including cancer. Let’s discuss a bit on how certain food items in the diet critically address those conditions.

Rich in antioxidants

As studies have shown, antioxidants are needed to prevent cancer. They neutralize free radicals, which promote the development of cancer. Sources rich in antioxidants are olive oil, fruits and vegetables, and flavonoids from red wine. You can easily have a good amount of antioxidants daily with the Mediterranean diet.

Omega 3

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that help promote a healthy heart. These can be easily found in fish as fish oil. Fish like mackerel, salmon, tuna and other seafood items are a source high in omega 3. Omega 3 fatty acids basically reduce inflammation and help lower the risk of heart disease through controlling blood pressure and also improving the heart’s contractility and strength.


Dietary fibre is abundant in the Mediterranean diet. You can get it from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fibre is important in maintaining a healthy bowel and also it prevents colon cancer. You may also want to know how it affects weight loss. It technically improves metabolism and decreases appetite.

Other nutrients

Of course we are not limited only to the benefits mentioned above as we are dealing with natural and healthy sources. You get to increase the ‘good’ cholesterol from healthy sources of fat like nuts and olive oil. These can help further to avoid heart conditions. You can also prevent diabetes through a good control of blood sugar since you will focus on eating simple carbohydrates containing high sugar content. Energy is not a question as you will have a healthier source of it.

Living in those countries also promotes more healthy activities. People there prefer to walk to work or bike their way in the city. It has been shown that they have lower stress levels and they basically maintain a passive approach.

As you’ve gone through this article, you will notice that the Mediterranean diet isn’t really a specific diet. It is more of a style of eating and if you add some healthy activities to it, you’ll definitely have a lifestyle fit for healthy living. Do you want to prevent those diseases mentioned above or perhaps you just want to lose weight? All these can be achieved with the Mediterranean diet. It takes a little bit of experimenting and courage to really do it.

Andrea Aurelio
About the author

Andrea Aurelio adopted the Mediterranean diet and the Mediterranean way of living after evaluating a series of diets and realizing that the Mediterranean diet is a proven diet and the best way to adopt a healthy lifestyle. You can connect with him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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