Posts Tagged ‘mediterranean diet’
The dietary guidelines for Americans 2010 recommends the traditional Mediterranean diet as a healthy option compared to the normal American diet. The guidelines were released on Jan 31, 2011 by the U.S.D.A. and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The guidelines are based on the findings of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. This Committee was comprised of health and science experts who reviewed the most recent research into diet and health and used it to create a scientific report based on solid evidence.
Dietary Guidelines For Americans 2010
A press release quotes the secretary of the US department of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, as saying;
“The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are being released at a time when the majority of adults and one in three children is overweight or obese and this is a crisis that we can no longer ignore,” said Secretary Vilsack. “These new and improved dietary recommendations give individuals the information to make thoughtful choices of healthier foods in the right portions and to complement those choices with physical activity. The bottom line is that most Americans need to trim our waistlines to reduce the risk of developing diet-related chronic disease. Improving our eating habits is not only good for every individual and family, but also for our country.”
The purpose of the guidelines is to educate people with the findings of recent research into health and diet. They will be used to assist health and nutrition experts to create materials to educate the public and special groups like children. They will also be used to design and run nutrition programs, including the Federal nutrition assistance and education programs.
The core message of the dietary guidelines For Americans 2010 is about making healthy food choices, based on nutrient dense foods and drinks rather than calorie dense ones. What does this mean? Nutrient dense foods refers to foods that are vitamin and mineral rich. These foods are close to nature, eg; fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit juice etc. Calorie dense foods are those which are high in sugar and calories and are processed until they have very few nutrients left. Eg. processed cereals like coco pops and fruit loops, processed snacks like crisps and cookies, processed meats like chicken nuggets, hamburgers, sausages and soda drinks. In America today, most people consume far too many calories and not enough nutrients. This causes them to be overweight while being badly under nourished and this leads to health issues like heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes etc.
But why would the the dietary guidelines For Americans 2010 suggest a traditional Mediterranean diet as an option? Because this diet is based upon fresh fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts, fish and seafood with less red meat, sweets, poultry and dairy products than the normal American diet. They rarely eat processed foods and most foods are either raw or only lightly cooked. It is a diet which is high in vitamins, minerals, protein, anti oxidants and essential fatty acids like Omega 3 while being low in toxins and saturated fats that lead to a host of chronic health issues.
According to 1995-1998 heart disease death statistics there were almost 103 deaths per 100,000 population caused by heart disease worldwide. In the U.S. that figure was 106 per 100,000, The U.K. had 122 deaths per 100,000 and Australia, 110 deaths per 100,000. But four 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
People who enjoy a traditional Mediterranean diet are also less likely to suffer from cancer, depression, parkinsons disease and alzheimers. For more info and references visit Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits
Would you like a copy of the Dietary Guidelines For Americans 2010? You can download the guidelines at Dietary Guidelines. This link leads to the PDF version of the dietary guidelines for Americans 2010 where you will be able to save a copy or print the whole document using the pdf controls that appear when your cursor is at the bottom of the page.
Mediterranean diet health benefits have had researchers spending thousands of man hours trying to understand them. Although these days, many regions of the Mediterranean have adopted a much more westernized diet habit which has resulted in a mounting obesity issue, communities who still follow the traditional Mediterranean diet continue to experience health which is the envy of the western world.
The Mediterranean diet consists primarily of fresh, healthy plant food like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, olives, fish and seafood. They combine this with reduced amounts of red meat and dairy products. The diet is more nutritious because foods are less processed. Processing food, and even cooking it, deprives it of nutrients. But in a traditional Mediterranean diet, most foods are eaten raw or lightly cooked. When red meat is served it is often trimmed of excess fat. The overall diet provides plentiful fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, protein and essential fatty acids required by the body to maintain health and prevent chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer.
Another notable aspect of the traditional Mediterranean diet is that not every meal contains animal flesh (i.e. meat or fish). There are commonly days with no animal flesh being consumed at all. On these days, the protein portion of the meal is derived from things like beans, peas, nuts, seeds and eggs. Although eggs are debatably still a meat product, recent research indicates that eating eggs does NOT increase blood cholesterol as scientists and doctors used to believe. Another modern day alternative to meat is tofu which comes from soy beans.
All of these things result in the Mediterranean diet being high in monounsaturated fatty acids, otherwise known as M.U.F.As which are health fats. Diets containing M.U.F.As (and polyunsaturated fats, or P.U.F.As) as opposed to saturated and trans fats, tend to provide certain health benefits including reduced risk of;
- Heart disease
- High Cholesterol
- Type II Diabetes
- Parkinsons Disease
- Metabolic syndrome
Lets take a closer at these.
Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits
Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits – Reduced risk of heart disease and high Cholesterol
High levels of saturated fats result in increased cholesterol in the bloodstream. Over time, the cholesterol attaches to the walls of arteries causing a narrowing of the arteries that can lead to blockages (like in the picture to the right), heart attacks and heart disease. Quite clearly, the reduced amount of saturated fat in traditional Mediterranean diets results in lower cholesterol levels. In some cases, high cholesterol is hereditary and is caused by the liver producing too much. A healthy diet containing high amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids is proven to actively combat this issue and can have a significant lowering effect on cholesterol levels. (See Reference 1)
Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits – Reduced risk of Stroke
A Columbia University Medical Center study in which researchers followed 712 participants over a six year period discovered that participants who followed a moderate Mediterranean diet were 21% less likely to experience a stroke. Participants who followed a strict diet were 36% less likely to experience a stroke. (See Reference 2)
Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits – Reduced risk of cancer
According to a study by the Department of Clinical Sciences, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain: “There is a ‘probable’ protective role of the Mediterranean diet toward cancer in general.” A National Cancer institute study of 500,000 people found that people who consumed more than 4 oz (113g) of red meat daily were 30% more likely to die from ANY cause over 10 years than those who consumed less. Sausages and processed meats increased the risk even more. (See Reference 3)
Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits – Reduced risk of Diabetes
Consumption of complex carbohydrates and high fiber foods reduces the Glycemic Index of foods and low GI foods prevent spikes in blood sugar levels. So a low GI diet such as the Mediterranean diet tends to prevent diabetes… See the section on Metabolic syndrome below (See Reference 1 & 6)
Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits – Reduced risk of Parkinsons & Alzheimers
Some studies indicate that people who adhere to the Mediterranean diet have lower rates of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Researchers are unsure why this is the case but they believe that healthy food choices improving cholesterol, blood sugar levels and blood vessel health may be the cause. (See Reference 4)
Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits – Reduced risk of Depression
British Researchers studied depression and diet in mored than 3,000 middle-aged office workers for five years. Their findings indicated that people who ate a diet high in processed meat, chocolate, sugar, fried food, refined cereals and high-fat dairy products — were more likely to suffer depression. But people who ate a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fish similar to a Mediterranean diet were less likely to suffer depression. Their findings support other research that has found that healthy diets can protect against disease. (See Reference 5)
Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits – Reduced risk of Metabolic syndrome
Many overweight and obese people suffer from a condition called Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions — high blood pressure, a abnormal blood sugar levels, excessive body fat around the waist or abnormal cholesterol levels — that occur together. These increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. People on the Mediterranean diet have been found to be less likely to be overweight, thus reducing incidence of this condition. (See Reference 6)
- Mayo Clinic – Mediterranean diet: Choose this heart-healthy diet option
- ABC News – Mediterranean Diet May Be Key To Avoiding Stroke, Dementia
- PubMed – Association between the Mediterranean diet and cancer risk
- Mayo Clinic – Can a Mediterranean diet lower my risk of Alzheimer’s?
- Mayo Clinic – Are depression and diet related?
- Mayo Clinic – Metabolic syndrome
Mediterranean Diet Food List – Let’s Start Shopping!
The Mediterranean diet food list is derived from the eating habits of the Mediterranean people, namely those who live in Spain, France, Tunisia, Lebanon, Morocco, Greece and Italy. The diet of these people has remained pretty much unchanged for thousands of years. They are renowned for their consumption of healthy foods. And their health statistics support the healthiness of their lifestyle.
According to nationmaster.com heart disease death stats there were almost 103 deaths per 100,000 population caused by heart disease. In the US that figure was 106 per 100,000, The UK 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 were from Mediterranean countries; France: 39.8 deaths per 100,000, Spain: 53.8 deaths per 100,000, Italy: 65.2 deaths per 100,000 and Greece: 68.8 deaths per 100,000. This makes the average for these four countries 56.9 deaths per 100,000 which is just over half the wordwide figure. Impressive isn’t it? Makes you wonder, what are they doing right?
The Mediterranean diet contains many delicious foods. Perhaps this is the reason for the diet becoming so popular these days, along with the fact that it is so healthy. When you adopt the Mediterranean diet, you greatly increase your chances of living a healthy life. But what foods will you find in a Mediterranean diet Food List?
Interestingly, the Mediterranean diet food list does not only contain food, it also contains beverages. Beverages, specifically water and wine, are an important part of the Mediterranean diet. People in the Mediterranean generally drink a glass of wine with dinner (though they rarely consume more than this). Even young children are permitted to a few sips of wine with dinner. Wine is high in antioxidants so this has health benefits as long as it is consumed in moderation.
The Mediterranean diet food list focuses on fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. It is also high in monounsaturated fat. This monounsaturated fat comes primarily from olive oil. One of the reasons for good health statistics is that the mediterranean diet is VERY low in saturated fats. They only eat red meat a couple of times per month and don’t consume as much dairy as we do in western society. Their main source of protein comes from fish, with only smaller amounts of dairy, poultry and red meat.
The Mediterranean diet food list. Let’s go shopping!
|Artichokes, beets, brussel sprouts, carrots, celeriac, collard, dandelion greens, fennel, leeks, lettuce, mache, mustard greens, Okra, Peas, Potatoes, Purslane, rutabaga (turnip), shallots, sweet potatoes (yams), zucchini, swede, scallions (spring onions), radishes, pumpkin, peppers (red, green, yellow, orange), Onions (red, brown and white), nettles, mushrooms, lettuce, kale, eggplant (aubergine), cucumber, chicory, celery, cabbage, broccoli, Arugula (rocket).|
|Avocado, tomatoes, apples, tangerines, apricots, strawberries, cherries, pomegranates, clementine mandarines, pears, dates, peaches, figs, olives, grapefruit, nectarines, grapes, melons and oranges|
|Whole grain breads, barley, millet, oats, rice, polenta, bulgur, couscous, buckwheat, durum, wheatberries and farro.|
|Yellowtail, abalone, clams, cockles, crab, lobster, flounder, eel, octopus, squid (calamari), oysters, mussels, mackerel, tilapia, salmon, sea bass, tuna, sardines, whelk and shrimp|
|Chicken, guinea fowl, duck, chicken eggs, duck eggs, quail eggs.|
|Brie, feta (fetta), Corvo, chevre, ricotta, parmigiana-reggiano, manchego, pecorino, haloumi, Greek yogurt and flavored yogurt.|
|Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachio, sesame seeds (tahini) and walnuts|
|Cannellini, chickpeas, fava (broadbeans), kidney, green beans, lentils and split peas.|
|Anise, zatar spice mix, chillies, basil, garlic, fennel, bay leaf, clove, lavender, cumin, oregano, mint, marjoram, sage, pul biber (also known as halaby pepper, aleppo pepper and flake pepper), parsley, rosemary, savory, thyme, sumac and tarragon|
|Pork, beef, lamb, mutton and goat.|
|Creme caramel, baklava, tiramisu, sorbet, biscotti, chocolate, chocolate mousse, Turkish delight, kunefe, gelato and fruit tarts.|
|People of the Mediterranean generally drink around six glasses of water per day plus 1-2 glasses of red wine (one glass each with lunch and dinner).|
So there you have it, your Meditterranean diet food list. Now you know what to aim for the next time you go grocery shopping.
For most of us, the most recognized symbol of healthy food is found in the food pyramid. A food pyramid indicates which foods we should eat in which portion sizes so that our body receives the nutrients it requires. If you’re creating a healthy diet plan you would do well to look at the Mediterranean diet food pyramid. The Mediterranean diet is recognized as one of the healthiest diets in the world and is actually endorsed by the Mayo Clinic.
What is the Mediterranean Diet Food Pyramid
The Mediterranean diet food pyramid is becoming increasingly popular because it is not based on popular food trends. The Mediterranean diet model is founded on thousands of years of tradition within the Mediterranean region. The dietary traditions of Mediterranean countries have long been recognized as very healthy, and the food that they consume is one of the main factors in that healthiness. Knowing the difference between the American diet food pyramid and the Mediterranean diet food pyramid will assist you to improve your health.
The best graphic representation of a Mediterranean diet food pyramid is found in the Oldways Mediterranean Diet Food Pyramid which was updated in 2009 to include herbs and spices.
The Mediterranean diet food pyramid is significantly different to the traditional food pyramid with which we are familiar. There are certain glaring differences, namely;
- The Mediterranean diet food pyramid does not have a fats category
- Red meat is at the top of the Mediterranean diet food pyramid as a food to eat least of along with sweets/desserts.
- Olive oil is grouped with the fruit and vegetable as something to be consumed frequently
The top portion of the Mediterranean diet food pyramid starts with red meat as a source of animal protein. Red meat and sweets are the least consumed foods in the Mediterranean diet, around 2-3 times per month. The next category, consumed a couple of times per week, are poultry, eggs and dairy products like cheese and yogurt. Next comes fish and seafood which are consumed almost daily. Basically, the Mediterranean diet is low in saturated fats and high in monounsaturated fats and omega 3.
The bottom level of the pyramid is composed of fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans), nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, couscous, brown rice, polenta and other whole grains. People in the Mediterranean rarely eat processed grains (i.e. white flour). A large variety of these fresh foods are eaten daily, and they are usually either raw or lightly cooked. This means that the nutrients are still intact. Cooking foods actually kills most nutrients or renders them undigestible. Hence it is always better to eat food raw or partially cooked.
The final part of the Mediterranean diet food pyramid is the recommendation of six glasses of water per day and a moderate amount of wine (i.e. one glass of red wine with dinner).
It is interesting to note that olive oil is grouped with the fruit and vegetables in the Mediterranean diet food pyramid. As you can imagine, olive oil is a large part of the Mediterranean diet and many dishes contain it. While it is true that oil is high in calories, olive oil is a healthy monounsaturated fat which is high in antioxidants and contains omega 3 so we can consume a little more as long as we don’t go overboard. Monounsaturated oils like olive oil are anti-inflammatory and are good for diseases like asthma and arthritis. They’re also heart healthy because the omega 3 lowers LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and raises HDL (“good”) cholesterol. The most healthy olive oil is extra virgin olive oil.
You may be wondering how people in the Mediterranean receive their iron since they don’t eat a lot of red meat. The answer to this is the same as it would be for a vegetarian. Legumes (beans) and green leafy vegetables are also good sources of iron and the Mediterranean diet is full of these healthy foods. In fact, the whole Mediterranean diet food pyramid consists of healthy foods ensuring that those who follow the Mediterranean diet experience optimum health.
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.