By September 18, 2011

The Mediterranean Diet

Struggling to lose weight? Wondering if any diets that work are actually out there? More and more researchers are finding that the best way to lose weight is to follow a Mediterranean-based diet. Featuring the bright flavors of olive oil and wine, and a focus on healthy eating and exercise, the Mediterranean diet is good for your heart and avoids the dangerous qualities of fad diets.

The Mediterranean Diet Studies on the Mediterranean diet have found that it can lower your risk of heart and cardiovascular disease, in addition to reducing the incidence of cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. One recent study followed more than 1.5 million adults who demonstrated the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

Many healthcare practitioners and organizations are starting to point patients towards the benefits of eating a Mediterranean-style diet. Those looking to lose weight can establish a healthy lifestyle, and those who are looking to increase longevity and avoid common conditions associated with poor eating habits can benefit as well.

What Makes Up the Mediterranean Diet?

Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and legumes, beans, nuts, herbs and spices are the main base of the Mediterranean diet, and the primary source around which every meal should be built. These plant-based foods are rich in antioxidants and fiber, and are the primary reason why the Mediterranean diet has been associated with lower LDL, or bad cholesterol levels and higher HDL, or good cholesterol levels.

Worried that some of these foods seem high in fat? They are — but it’s the good kind of fat, which many people seem to forget about and shun. These foods are low in saturated fat, the kind of fat that causes health problems, and high in unsaturated fats. This doesn’t mean that an entire can of almonds should be eaten in one sitting, but a handful a day provides essential nutrients for your body.

Fish and other seafood are a significant part of the Mediterranean diet and should be eaten at least twice weekly. Fish that has been grilled or broiled is full of omega-3 fatty oils — healthy oils that protect your organs and have an antioxidant effect.

Moderate portions of poultry, dairy, eggs and cheese are allowed daily. Other meats and sweets should be eaten in limited portions, less often.

Additional Components of the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet focuses on other healthy lifestyle changes as well, including:

— Getting plenty of exercise
— Dropping butter in favor of olive oil or canola oil
— Replacing salt with herbs and spices
— Consuming a moderate amount of red wine
— Eating reasonable portions and stopping when satisfied

By following the Mediterranean diet, you can expect to lose a reasonable and healthy amount of weight every week, about 0.5 to 2 pounds. Losing more than this is unhealthy and hard on your heart and system.

A Sample Dinner

Ready to put it together? Here’s an idea of a delicious, healthy dinner on the Mediterranean diet:

— Grilled salmon, seasoned with fresh oregano, lemon and ground black pepper
— Whole grain couscous, with 1 tablespoonful each of crushed almonds and feta cheese
— Whole grain bread, dipped in olive oil
— Steamed green beans, dressed with fresh-squeezed lemon and herbs such as rosemary and thyme
— A 4-ounce glass of red wine