As people are becoming more conscious of their health and eating, a considerable number of these people are adopting the Mediterranean Diet regime. For centuries and many generations, it was observed that people of the Mediterranean (the region around the Mediterranean Sea), lived longer than people from other parts of the world. Initially, the reason for the same was mainly attributed to the climate of the region that was inviting and pleasant, but with time and advancement, researchers were able to conclude that it was not only the weather that was behind the good health of the people of the Mediterranean region, it was major the diet (what you eat regularly) of the people that counted for their good health and longevity.

What is Mediterranean Diet?

Mediterranean diet meaning is what was the dietary regime that was originally followed by the people of the poorer regions of Greece and Italy (the Mediterranean region) for centuries. This type of diet was not particularly considered healthy in the Mediterranean region, as the locals ate the foods in the diet because they cannot afford better foods and it was more of a necessity for them. But this diet turned out to be one of the best for weight loss and offered exceptional nutritional benefits for the people.

The foods and the type of cuisine in the original Mediterranean diet are not what you may have expected from the Mediterranean region, but it overall served a much healthier purpose, and mostly because high-calorie foods like lard and butter were rarely used.

The Mediterranean diet plan is all about eating a lot of fresh fruits, plant foods, poultry, fish, and a few dairy products while using only extra virgin olive oil as the primary fat source. Some moderate amounts of eggs are also eaten a few times in a month, while red meats are to be completely avoided, as much as possible.

The Mediterranean diet food list is mainly focused on eating vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, and nuts and seeds. It also contains high levels of monounsaturated fats, primarily coming from Olive Oil.

A complete Mediterranean Diet Food List

The Fruits:

Apples, Apricots, Cherries, Dates, Peaches, Pears, Pimento, Grapes, Melons, Oranges, Tangerines, Tomatoes, Avocado, Pomegranate, Grapefruits, Nectarines, Figs, and alike.

The Vegetables:

Artichokes, Arugula, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Beans, Beets, Carrots, Cucumber, Cabbage,

Celery, Collard, Dandelion, Leeks, Fennel, Mustard Greens, Peas, Potatoes, Okra, Turnip,

Shallots, Sweet potatoes, Zucchini, Scallions or Spring Onions, Pumpkins, Green-Red-Yellow

Peppers, Onions, Mushrooms, Eggplants, Lettuce, and more.

The Grains:

Bread made of Whole Grains, Barley, Rice, Millet, Bulgur, Oats, Buckwheat, Durum, Wheatberries, and Faro.

Legumes:

Chickpeas, Cannellini, Broad beans, Green Beans, Lentils, and Split Peas.

Nuts and Seeds:

Cashew nuts, Almonds, Hazelnuts, Pine Nuts, Pistachios, Sesame Seeds, Walnuts.

Spices and Herbs:

Chilies, Basil, Fennel, Clove, Lavender, Cumin, Mint, Bay Leaves, Anise, Mix Spices, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Sumac, Tarragon.

Eggs and Poultry:

Chicken Eggs, Duck Eggs, Quail Eggs, Chicken, Duck, Guinea Fowl.

Seafood and Fishes:

Clams, Cockies, Lobsters, Eel, Squids, Oysters, Mussels, Crabs, Mackerel, Salmon, Tuna, Sardines, and Shrimps.

Yogurt and Cheese:

Greek Yoghurt, Flavored Yoghurt, Feta, Brie, Corvo, Ricotta, Haloumi, Pecorino, Manchego.

Desserts or Sweets:

Baklawa, Sorbets, Biscotti, Mouse (Mainly Chocolate), Crème Caramel, Turkish desserts, Gelato and Fruit Tarts.

Wines:

One to two glasses of red wine with lunch and dinner and at least six glasses of water a day.

The Complete Mediterranean Diet

A complete Mediterranean Diet is an authentic Mediterranean diet that is based on the eating patterns and lifestyles which was followed in certain Mediterranean regions (the regions that followed the Diet of Crete like Greece and the Southern part of Italy in the early days) and was associated with numerous health benefits and longevity.

The basis of a complete Mediterranean diet is:

  • High intake of vegetables, meats a few times a month, and extensive use of extra virgin olive oil, particularly in vegetarian dishes.
  • Other plant foods that are a part of the diet are nuts and seeds, and fruits.
  • No or minimal intake of packaged foods.
  • Local yields and seasonal foods are mostly preferred.
  • Extra virgin olive oil is the main source of fat intake. No other oils are used. Everything from cooking to roasting and grilling is all done in extra virgin olive oil.
  • Dairy in the form of yogurt and cheese is a part of the diet.
  • Moderate intake of poultry and fish (one or two times a week).
  • Beverages are mainly water and red wine. Tea, herbal teas, and coffee are also consumed in moderate quantities.
  • Red meat may be consumed one or two times a month.

The Mediterranean diet is something that is not based on exotic and rate foods or complex recipes, but most of the ingredients and foods are cheap and easy to find. The diet was based on simplicity based majorly on plant-based foods, with the key elements being vegetables and olive oil.

The Mediterranean diet for weight loss

A Mediterranean diet is based on the principles of delicious and sumptuous foods that have been liked for ages and promises to keep us healthy and happy for long. Though there is no one Mediterranean diet plan present, all and every Mediterranean diet is based on a dietary regime that promotes eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, healthy grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, seafood and fishes, small mount dairy, meat, and red wine and a lot and lot of olive oil.

There is no doubt that the Mediterranean diet is super healthy and aids in effective and healthy weight loss. A Mediterranean diet for weight loss is a simple weight loss diet in the Mediterranean style that you will need to follow for at least six months, keep physically active with regular exercises, and keeping an eye on the portion sizes.

The Mediterranean diet scores big on your heart health. Mediterranean diet and cholesterol, blood pressure, heart diseases, diabetes, and many other chronic health issues are opposite. There is no dearth of evidence to confirm that a Mediterranean diet based on majorly plant-based foods, and regular exercise to stay physically active is the best recipe for long and healthy life. We can also say that the Mediterranean diet is an excellent way to enjoy a diet plan. It is not only easy to follow for a long but is also highly flexible. 

Experts say that even if you do not follow a Mediterranean diet meal plan religiously, simply eating more of the foods in the diet plan and dining leisurely can bring about superb health benefits.

What are the benefits of the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet is acclaimed widely for its numerous health benefits. With all that is in your mind, let’s look at some of the many touted health benefits of the diet that are backed by scientific evidence.

  • Helps in reducing the risks of heart diseases

It has been studied that people who follow the Mediterranean diet are at a 30% lesser risk of developing some of the deadliest diseases like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

  • Helps to prevent cognitive decline including Alzheimer’s disease

The Mediterranean diet is heart-healthy. The eating pattern also has been shown to reduce age-related decline in memory and thinking abilities. The brain is an important organ of the body. It requires a regular supply of oxygen and nutrients to have a constant and rich supply of blood. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with improved cognition, slowing of cognitive decline, and reduced chances of conversion to cognitive ailments like Alzheimer’s.

  • Helps with weight loss and weight maintenance

Eating a lot of plant-based foods, whole grains, legumes, and monounsaturated fats helps in losing weight safely and sustainably. On top of it, if you follow calorie restrictions along with following a Mediterranean diet, you can see amazing results in your weight loss efforts. Moreover, the Mediterranean diet is something that you can enjoy in your life. If you do so, you will sustain your weight loss forever.

  • Helps with conditions of rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which our body’s immune system attacks the joints causing swelling and pain in them. The anti-inflammatory properties in the omega-3 of olive oil help reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Helps to promote mental health by reducing depression

 A diet rich in meats, processed foods, trans fats, and sugar causes inflammation. A Mediterranean diet is low in all of these foods, thereby, lowering the chances of depression and promoting mental well-being.

Many of the foods that you eat in the Mediterranean diet have high contents of antioxidants, and anti-oxidant are valuable compounds that work towards neutralizing the destructive nature of free radicals in the human body. The benefits of the Mediterranean diet are cumulative over time and the longer you stick to the diet plan the more inherent the benefits will be. Simply put, the benefits of the Mediterranean diet can be stored up with time. It can for sure increase your life span, make you overall healthier, and will keep you disease-free forever.