By Anthoney J. Andersen – Steroidal.com
America. It’s the land of the free and home to some of the most trendy and commercialized diets on the planet.
In a country full of endless food choices, it can sometimes stifle even the sanest person.
But which foods are the healthiest, and will help a person achieve his or her fitness goals?
Let’s take it one step at a time, and look at one of the more popular diet plans currently trending the nation: The Mediterranean Diet.
If you’re seeking out a diet plan with a refined and elegant menu – while looking to manage a healthy weight – then look no further.
The Mediterranean diet is comprised of quintessential foods and recipes of Mediterranean-style cooking. This diet is especially beneficial for people with a high risk of heart disease.
Most diet plans focus on incorporating a high level of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and limited unhealthy fats. While these diet factors are extremely important, slight variations in meal portions of certain foods, may help decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
According to Mayo Clinic, research and analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults, demonstrated that after completing the Mediterranean diet, they greatly reduced their risk of not only heart disease and certain cancers, but also decreased incidences of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
Following the Mediterranean diet, individuals may also see a decrease in cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as stable blood sugar levels.
“Really impressive,” says Rachel Johnson, a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association.
“And the really important thing – the coolest thing,” Johnson continues, “is that they used very little endpoints. They did not look at risk factors like hypertension or weight. They looked at heart attacks and strokes – which at the end of the day – is what really matters.”
Like with most diet plans, it’s best to follow the guidelines and regimen as close as possible, in order to achieve the greatest results.
The Mediterranean diet consists of the following:
- Mostly plant-based meals with little to no meat or chicken.
- An increase in the serving size of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes.
- Consuming foods rich in fiber.
- Increase fish consumption rather than red meat.
- Use olive oil – a monounsaturated fat – as the main source of seasoning for most of your foods.
Foods that are consumed in miniscule amounts, or not at all, are as follows:
While some diets may look at eliminating fats as much as possible, the Mediterranean diet takes on a different approach. Instead of staving off fats altogether, the diet looks for ways to consume healthier types of fat.
According to the American Heart Association, the Mediterranean diet discourages the intake of saturated fats and trans fats – which are two of the major contributors of heart disease.
“Low-fat diets have not been shown in any rigorous way to be helpful, and they tend to be hard on the participants to maintain,” says Dr. Steven E. Nissen, chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
While olive oil is said to be the primary source of fat, canola oil is also a popular ingredient.
Canola oil and certain nuts contain the vital omega-3 fatty acid known as linoleic acid. Omega-3s are a viable nutrient that are linked to the decrease in triglycerides, blood clotting, improves blood circulation and reduces the risk of sudden heart attacks.
Fish consumption is a huge part of the Mediterranean diet. The types of fish that are high in omega-3s include: mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon.
TAKING THE PLUNGE
Changing your diet can be a daunting challenge, but a challenge that may add years to your life.
According to Helpguide.org, if you’re thinking about taking that leap into the Mediterranean lifestyle, then it’s best to do it with ease.
Don’t rush it.
The following are a few suggestions to make your transition into the diet as fluent as possible:
- Eat breakfast. Look to start your day off right by eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fiber-rich foods, which will leave you feeling full for hours.
- Cut back on meat. If you eat meat, reconsider your options on how you consume it. For instance, eat smaller portions, or slice up chicken and spread it over a delicious whole-wheat pasta dish.
- Build a vegetarian meal at least once a week. Pick a night out of the week to cook up a dish that is high in beans, whole grains and vegetables.
Change can be a tough thing to battle. Most people are so set in their way of life that it sometimes takes a dose of reality – like a heart attack, for example – to make them realize that a change might be the best thing for their health.
The Mediterranean diet can be a step in the right direction for those individuals.
The diet doesn’t demand cutting out everything you love, but rather finding a way to cook healthy foods, while making them into a delicious, and delightful experience for both your taste buds and overall health.
Consider the change.