Mediterranean diet menus are proven to be better for a person’s health by the fact that heart disease incidence in Mediterranean countries is proven to be considerably lower compared to United States figures.
Statistically, according to 1995-1998 heart disease death statistics there were almost 103 deaths per 100,000 population caused by heart disease. In the United States that figure was 106 per 100,000, The United Kingdom had 122 deaths per 100,000 and Australia had 110 deaths per 100,000. Interestingly, four out of the six LOWEST heart disease death rates belonged to Mediterranean countries;
- France: 39.8 deaths per 100,000
- Spain: 53.8 deaths per 100,000
- Italy: 65.2 deaths per 100,000
- Greece: 68.8 deaths per 100,000
There is also a reduced risk of cancer to those on the Mediterranean diet.
So what is the secret of Mediterranean diet menus?
Well, the focus of the diet is lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, seafood and olive oil combined with minimal processed grain, red meat, saturated fat and salt. If you drink alcohol then a glass of red wine with dinner also increases your antioxidant consumption. Because of these factors, the diet is high in omega 3 and antioxidants which improves heart health and fights free radicals which may cause genetic mutations that lead to diseases like cancer. The findings associated with the Mediterranean diet are consistent with findings elsewhere around the globe. A diet low in saturated fats with plenty of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats produces better health outcomes, especially when it comes to heart health.
Many people are very much concerned about their health these days and who wouldn’t be? Quite frankly, the mounting figures of major health issues like heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes is enough to scare anyone. That is why it is important to pay closer attention to what we eat every day. Following Mediterranean diet menus has the potential to improve general health and wellbeing.
Many studies support Mediterranean diet menus as one of the most healthy in the world including research by The New England Journal of Medicine, Harvard School of Public Health and the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory. Consequently, there is real evidence of Mediterranean Diet Menus aiding in weight loss and reduced risk of cancer and heart disease as a whole.
The great thing with Mediterranean diet menus is that they allow for greter creativity and taste which is not possible with other diets. But it is important to combine any diet with moderate exercise to maintain health. And this is the other aspect of Mediterranean life. They tend to have a higher level of activity. For example, most households have their own veggie patch, you’ve probably even noticed this if you have neighbors who come from the region. Not only do they have to tend for their garden, but they are also more likely to go for a walk. All of these things add up to a more active lifestyle and better health.
An example of Mediterranean diet menus is:
Fresh Yoghurt with berries and low fat granola
Place 7oz rinsed canned chickpeas, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 a white onion (chopped in quarters), 1/4 cup chopped red pepper, 5 black or kalamata olives, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste), and 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar into a blender and blend down to a rough paste. Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves (approximately 2 cups) with 2-3 halved cherry tomatoes.
A handful of heart healthy raw, unsalted nuts
Grilled salmon with greek salad
Slice cucumber, green bell peppers, tomato, and red onion and kalamata olives then mix together. Crumble fetta cheese over the top and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and a little extra virgin olive oil
Heat grill, griddle or frying pan. Take one salmon fillet and slice it into 1 1/2 to 2 inch strips. Spray both sides with extra virgin olive oil then place in hot grill or pan skin side up. Cook for approximately 2 minutes per side turning ONCE only (turning multiple times causes salmon to fall apart). It may take a little more than two minutes per side depending on the thickness of the fillet. When cooked place salmon on top of Greek salad and serve.
Rather than searching for new recipes, you might like to bring your normal menu in line with the Mediterranean diet. Here are several tips on how to do so.
Mediterranean Diet Menus – Tips for Main Meals:
When cooking with oil, always use olive oil – Store it in an oil sprayer to help control how much you use. TIP: light and extra light olive oil are NOT lower in calories. The term ‘light’ is only used to describe olive oil blends.
Steam your vegetables and have roast vegetables occasionally too – Spray roasting tin with olive oil and place cherry tomatoes, red onion, chopped zuccini (courgette), chopped eggplant (aubergine), peppers and red onions in. Spray vegetables with olive oil, sprinkle with basil (either chopped fresh or dried) and black pepper and roast in a hot oven until cooked. Serve with crusty wholegrain bread or pasta.
Have ONE glass of red wine with dinner. Be careful though, wine is VERY high in calories. If you don’t drink alcohol then select a de-alcoholized version from the grocery store.
Rather than pasta made with white flour and white rice, choose wholegrain pasta and brown rice – and don’t add salt to the cooking.
Make your own pasta sauces rather than using store bought ones. Lightly fry one chopped red onion and two cloves of crushed garlic in a little olive oil. When lightly brown, add chopped tomatoes, one tablespoon tomato puree, fresh basil and black pepper. Simmer until tomatoes have softened into a sauce, then serve with wholegrain pasta. There is a nice recipe for pasta sauce at Italian mushroom and olive pasta sauce
Start each meal with salad – One of the most important aspects of the Mediterranean diet is the amount of raw food eaten. Raw foods contain the highest nutrient levels. Cooking foods actually kills nutrients. Be adventurous with salads, add peppers, red onions, grated carrot, celery, rocket, fresh herbs, a little avocado, and baby spinach. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar to control calories.
Instead of buttering your bread mix a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar to use as a dip. You can even marinate the oil by placing it in a bottle with sprigs of rosemary, coriander or basil, small chillies and garlic cloves etc. Cap the bottle and store for a few months. When you open the bottle the oil will be infused with the flavors.
Add less meat in recipes like stew, soup and casseroles and add beans and extra vegetables replace the meat. This will not only make the recipe more healthy, it will also save you money.
Eat oily fish at least once per week – Fresh is always better than canned. Excellent oily fish options include salmon, tuna, sardine, herring, trout, prawn/shrimp etc.
Stop using salt as a flavoring! The Mediterranean diet includes little sodium. flavor your foods with garlic, fresh herbs, red wine and black pepper. When you do use salt, always use sea salt instead of table salt. Sea salt contains many trace elements that the body needs but table salt lacks them.
Mediterranean Diet Menus – Tips for Snacks:
Swap biscuits, cakes and crisps for fresh fruit or a handful of raw, unsalted nuts or seeds as a snack.
For a delicious snack serve raw vegetables with homemade tzatziki – Mix low-fat Greek yogurt with crushed garlic, lemon juice, grated cucumber and black pepper to taste.
Mediterranean Diet Menus – Tips for Dessert:
Commit yourself to eating five serves of fruit and vegetables per day – try fresh fruit salad with low-fat natural yogurt and a drizzle of honey for breakfast or desert. That’s another aspect of the Mediterranean diet, they rarely eat dessert unless it’s fresh fruit etc.