υγεία - the Greek name for health
Many articles and books have been written about the Mediterranean diet. The diet reflects the eating habits of Crete, Greece and southern Italy around 1960 when rates of life expectancy rates were the highest in the world and occurrences of chronic diseases were lowest in the world in people from these regions.
The diet has been promoted as one of the healthiest diets to follow. The diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts and olive oil. It is a plant-based diet with milk, cheese and yogurt also being part of the daily diet. Red meat is eaten only a few times a month; chicken, fish and eggs are eaten several times a week. Butter and margarine are seldom included in the diet with the principal fat being olive oil. The diet uses seasonal grown foods and doesn’t include processed foods. In many ways it is about clean eating.
If you want to follow a Mediterranean diet you need to focus on consuming fruit and vegetables daily, half your plate at lunch and supper should be vegetables; consume grains such as barley, bulgur, couscous, faro, millet and oats; choose low fat dairy; eat fish at least twice a week; eat red meat three times a month and don't consume large portions, your portion should be the size of a deck of cards; increase your consumption of beans; consume unsaturated and healthy fats and drink in moderation.
In a Globe and Mail article this past March, the nutritionist Leslie Beck quotes some research work done on the Mediterranean diet. After reviewing more than 50 studies completed on over half a million people, the diet was found to substantially lower the risk of metabolic syndrome and is highly protective against the risk factors that cause this disorder. Metabolic syndrome occurs when an individual has a large waist circumference plus two or more of the following: high blood pressure, low HDL (good cholesterol); high blood triglycerides and elevated fasting blood sugar levels. Your risk of heart attack doubles plus you have five times the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
I think this diet is a smart way to eat and is not complicated to follow. If you want to loose weight you still need to be mindful of portion size.