The Mediterranean Style Diet is based on traditional Mediterranean meals that include ample amounts of fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, beans and legumes, whole grain foods, nuts and seeds, extra virgin olive oil, and seafood. These are the foods traditionally consumed by people living in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
Why is it called “Mediterranean Style Diet”?
The word “diet” has origins in the Latin word “diaeta” which means a way of living or a daily routine. Today the word “diet” is a term we use to describe a plan of eating that we follow for a short period of time to get to some goal or objective like losing weight. The old definition of a way of life is more in keeping with the intent of the Mediterranean Style diet which is more of a style or pattern of eating that one follows everyday.
There is no one “Mediterranean” Style diet. Twenty two countries from three continents border the Mediterranean Sea. They are:
- Asia: Turkey, Syria, Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel, Palestinian Authority
- Africa: Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco
- Europe: Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, the island state of Malta, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, Albania and Greece.
It started out as a sort of Paradox
Those living in Mediterranean countries tend to consume high amounts of fat yet they have a lower rate of heart disease than those living in countries like the US where the levels of fat consumption are similar.
Origins of the Mediterranean Style Diet.
The analysis of the data showed that people who ate a diet where fruits and vegetables, grains, beans, and fish were the basis of daily meals were healthiest.
The diet became popular in the 1990s after scientists were more able to support the claims regarding its benefits for people with a high risk of heart disease.
The Mediterranean Style Diet as we know it now was produced by combining the various dietary elements of the different Mediterranean countries with modern nutritional information.
- Eat abundant amounts of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
- Eat fresh fruit for dessert.
- Add moderate amounts of nuts/seeds into your eating plans.
- Use olive oil as the principal fat.
- Incorporate fresh herbs.
- Consume fish and seafood regularly. Twice-weekly consumption of low to moderate amounts of fish and poultry.
- Eat moderate portions of cheese and yogurt.
- Eat small amounts of red meat only few times per month.
- Drink wine in moderation, usually with meals.
- Engage in physical activity daily.
East Meets West Connection:
The Mediterranean Style of Diet is an example of a traditional type of diet that merges both eastern eating habits and lifestyle with a western experimental approach to gaining information about nutrients. Here are some of the Eastern aspects:
- Whole-diet approach: There is not one element of the Mediterranean style diet that is more beneficial for the body than any other. All the elements work in synergy with each other to provide many of the health benefits that its supporters claim. The Mediterranean style diet is based on eating a healthy combination of foods.
- Individual acceptance: Specifics are not given on how much of each food should be consumed. Rather, a certain frequency that each food group should appear in an individual’s diet is recommended. Recommendations are given on foods that should be consumed daily, weekly and monthly.
- Flexible and adaptable to individuals and groups: The ways of eating vary among the Mediterranean countries and also between regions within a country. The many differences in culture, ethnic background, religion, economy and agricultural production result in different ways of eating and preparing foods.
- Emphasis on foods that are minimally processed and locally grown: The focus is on a variety of minimally processed and, wherever possible, seasonally fresh and locally grown foods (that also enhances the health-promoting micronutrient and antioxidant content of these foods).
- Other lifestyles to consider: Regular physical activity at a level which promotes a healthy weight, fitness and well-being is part of many of the cultures around the Mediterranean.
Mediterranean Style Diet Food List Vegetables 1/2 cup cut-up raw or cooked veg,
1/2 cup juice
1 cup raw leafy greens
Artichokes, Arugula, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Celeriac, Chicory, Collards, Dandelion Greens, Eggplant, Fennel, Kale, Leeks, Lemons, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Mustard Greens, Okra, Onion, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radishes, Rutabega, Scallions, Shallots, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, Turnips, Zucchini
Fruits 1 med fruit
½ cup fresh, frozen, canned fruit
½ cup 100% juice
¼ cup dried fruit
Avocados, Apples, Apricots, Cherries, Clementines, Dates, Figs, Grapefruit, Grapes, Oranges, Melons, Nectarines, Olives, Peaches, Pears, Potatoes, Pomegranates, Strawberries, Tangerines, Tomatoes
1 slice bread
1 cup ready-to-eat cereal
½ cup cooked rice, pasta, cooked cereal
Breads, Barley, Buckwheat, Bulgur, Couscous, Durem, Farro, Millet, Oats, Polenta, Rice, Wheat Berries
Fish/Seafood 1 oz cooked Abalone, Cockles, Clams, Brab, Eel, Flounder, Lobster, Mackerel, Mussels, Octopus, Oysters, Salmon, Sardines, Sea Bass, Shrimp, Squid, Tilapia, Tuna, Whelk, Yellowtail
Poultry/Eggs 1 oz cooked
1 whole egg or 2 egg whites
Chicken, Duck, Guinea Fowl
Eggs (Chicken, Quail, Duck)
Cheese/Yogurt 1.5 oz cheese
1 cup yogurt
Cheeses (examples: Brie, Chevre, Corvo, Feta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, Ricotta)
Yogurt, Greek Yogurt
Nuts/Seeds,/Legumes 1/3 cup nuts
2 TBS seeds
¼ cup cooked legumes
Almonds, Beans (Cannellini, Chickpeas, Fava, Kidney, Green), Cashews, Hazelnuts, Lentils, Pine Nuts, Pistachios, Sesame Seeds (Tahini), Split Peas, Walnuts
Herbs & Spices to taste Anise, Basil, Bay Leaf, Chiles, Clove, Cumin, Fennel, Garlic, Lavender, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Pepper, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Suma, Tarragon, Thyme, Zatar
Meats & Sweets Sparingly Pork, Beef, Lamb, Mutton, Goat
Sweets (Examples: Baklava, Biscotti, Crème Caramel, Chocolate, Gelato, Fruit Tarts, Mousse, Sorbet, Tiramisu.
Wine Wine in Moderation
2009 Oldways Preservation & Exchange Trust