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The Six Principles Of The Mediterranean Diet — an article on the Smart Living Network
February 28, 2008 at 1:33 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

The Six Principles Of The Mediterranean Diet


The Mediterranean diet has achieved critical acclaim lately for its numerous health benefits and delicious foods. While we may tend to think of the word "diet" as a synonym for food deprivation, the Mediterranean lifestyle is instead focused on celebration and pleasure. Meals are occasions to enjoy the company of others, savor delicious food and linger around the table. While your lifestyle may not permit lingering around the dinner table for hours, there are key points of the Mediterranean diet you can easily adapt in your own kitchen.

Fresh Food

While most Americans do their grocery shopping in the form of weekly stockpiling, many Europeans purchase food daily, walking to the produce stand, the butcher shop and the bakery. It is often more difficult for Americans to buy enough fresh food and maintain its freshness. However, the more fresh foods you eat, the less likely you are to ingest preservatives, artificial flavors or other chemicals in processed foods.

Whole Grains

Americans traditionally think of grain as white flour. In fact, there are more kinds of grain out there than we may ever know. Each culture has a different staple grain. Here in the U.S. we are familiar with corn and wheat, but other cultures have different standard grains. The diet of Mediterranean people is full of whole grains, unlike our refined grains. Whole grains contain all the nutrients of the plant, as well as larger amounts of fiber and protein with less sugar. Try to incorporate into your diet the following grains: couscous, polenta, brown, basmati or wild rice, polenta, barley, and wheat or rye breads.

Less Meat

The traditional American meal consists of a meat and two vegetables; think steak, potatoes and a salad. Most other cultures use meat as a side, or an addition to a meal. Many Asians incorporate some meat into a main dish such as stir-fry. The Mediterranean diet contains little meat, and often in the form of fish or seafood. Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a source of good fat, and reduced overall meat consumption helps keep cholesterol down.

Healthy Fats

The Mediterranean diet is focused around the use of healthy fats. While saturated and trans fats clog Americans" arteries, monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, nuts, avocados and polyunsaturated fats from fish can actually reduce the risk of heart disease. Still, consumption of these fats must be regulated; too much fat is still too much fat, no matter how good the fat is for the body.

Smaller Portions

It's amazing the amount of food a person can eat in one sitting. Most American's are used to wolfing down food while in the car, working at the desk or ushering the kids off to school. Many Europeans take their meals in a much more calm and relaxed fashion, using mealtimes as a means of getting in touch with family and savoring delicious foods. The slower you eat, the more time you brain has to respond to food. If you savor your food, you will enjoy it more, and somehow still manage to eat less of it. A simple trick is to put your fork down after every bite and take a sip of water.

Red Wine

A small amount of red wine (one glass) consumed with a mean, not on an empty stomach, has been shown to have numerous health benefits. While doctors don't recommend using red wine as a means of achieving health, it is high in antioxidants and linked to other health benefits. If you are considering any sort of dietary change, think about this. Food, and dieting, should be all about enjoying a variety of options. Food should be fun, interesting and exciting. If cooking seems a daunting task, there are hundreds of cookbooks out there, tailored to specific options. You'll find an excess of cookbooks focusing on the Mediterranean diet, and many of those will have easy and fast meal options. Start small; try one new recipe or ingredient a week. In small steps, eventually you'll have a whole new way of cooking and consuming food.


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