In our attempt to find the best diet for health and longevity, the research behind the Mediterranean diet certainly seems to put it in that category. If you adopt the Mediterranean diet, studies show that your will not only have longer life expectancy, but will reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and hypertension. So, your quality of life can improve as well. This is primarily due to the use of olive oil in place of other saturated fats like butter. I recently discovered a recipe oriented book with a ton of ideas and even a daily meal planner. There are a few different variations of the diet and this one allows meat and desserts. It all has to be cooked in a clean and healthy manner, of course. But, I honestly believe we can enjoy this type of diet and not feel deprived while improving our health.
The book is The Mediterranean Prescription by A. Acquista, M.D. and his first point is to know the difference between the different types of fats. The goal is to consume unsaturated fat as in olive oil and plant based foods while reducing trans and saturated fats. Don’t worry, it’s all spelled out on the package labels and recipes in his book. Many people are staying away from wheat or starch these days, but there are good and bad starches too. Organic whole grain bread, for example, is one of the most healthy foods available. It’s prudent to avoid the white starches in bread, pasta, and rice and just replace them with the whole grain versions. Some studies even correlate how much whole grain products you eat to how long you will live.
In case you are new to the Mediterranean diet, Dr. Acquista lists the 12 guiding principles:
1. Eat lots of fruits.
2. Eat lots of vegetables.
3. Eat lots of legumes
4. Eat nuts and seeds
5. Eat whole grains
6. Use olive oil on salads and cooking
7. Eat low-fat dairy products in moderation
8. Eat fish
9. Eat the right fats (have a high ratio of unsaturated fats to saturated fats)
10. Regular physical activity
11. Drink Wine (red)
12. Eat small amounts of red meat and meat products.
Most studies say that one daily glass of wine is most beneficial for women and not more. In terms of red meat, I find it easier to just eliminate it altogether. I’m avoiding the saturated fat and the cholesterol because I have a history of strokes in my family. L. Johnson
Acquista, A. M.D., The Mediterranean Prescription, New York: Ballantine Books, 2006, p.17.
The Mediterranean Diet for Everyone