How Healthy Is the Popular Mediterranean Diet?

Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean Diet is popular among celebrities and frequently featured in the news. But is it really healthy for you?

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If you're frustrated with all the different diets out there, check out the Mediterranean Diet. This diet uses the basics of eating healthy and adding just a splash of olive oil and a glass of red wine. This combination characterizes the cooking style of the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.

As we all know many diets include vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fish and limit fats that are unhealthy. While these foods have long been an essential part of diets, making small variations or making subtle changes can reduce your risk for heart disease. The Mediterranean Diet is no exception.

Can Improve Your Health

Among the many benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, research has proven it can reduce the risk of heart disease. The diet can lower LDL or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol also known as the “bad” cholesterol. The Mediterranean Diet has also been associated with reducing the risk of cancer, Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease. Another advantage to this diet is that it's been proven that women who use this diet have a reduced risk of breast cancer due to the use of extra virgin olive oil and mixed nuts.

Improves Memory and Thinking

Another great fact about the Mediterranean Diet is that recent studies have shown that there is an association between the diet and a decrease in problems related to memory and thinking.

Celebrities That Have Used the Mediterranean Diet

Many celebrities have used the Mediterranean Diet with amazing results. Chef Rachael Ray is currently using the diet and has included it as part of her everyday eating habits. In 2009, Rachel combined the diet with regular exercise and decreased her waistline by two inches and dropped two pants sizes.

Last year actor John Goodman made a major lifestyle change which included the Mediterranean Diet as an everyday eating plan along with regular exercise. At age 63 he has dropped close to 100 pounds.

There are hundreds of other celebrities that have also used the Mediterranean Diet as well.

A Few Essential Tips

The Mediterranean Diet is quite possibly one of the most delicious and healthiest ways to eat. Most people who use this diet find they enjoy this style of eating and continue to eat this way even when they're not on the diet! If you're interested in going on this diet, here are a few of the essential steps just to get you started:

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Be sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and start eating whole grains. Make sure that your diet includes plenty of plant foods. Try eating at least 7 servings a day of fruits and vegetables. Also, switch to whole grain bread and cereals along with more whole-grain rice and pasta.

Include nuts in your diet such as walnuts, cashews, and pistachios. Eat them as a snack. If you love peanut butter, try natural peanut butter instead of the usual that has hydrogenated fat. Another great snack food is Tahini which is blended sesame seeds. This is great as a dip or even as a spread on bread. Nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which protect your brain and heart.

Eliminate butter from your diet. Instead, try canola oil or olive oil as a replacement for butter or margarine. You can use olive and canola oil in cooking and use the flavored olive oil on bread or even spread it on whole grain bread.

Use plenty of herbs and spices. Both can really boost up the taste of foods and can be used as replacements for salt. Most herbs and spices have anti-cancer properties and are loaded with antioxidants.

Add fish to your diet at least once a week. The best kinds of fish are either fresh tuna or canned tuna packed in water, trout, salmon, herring and mackerel. The best way to eat these types of fish are grilled and you want to avoid fried fish unless it's sauteed using canola oil.

Cut back on red meat, sausage, bacon and other meats that are high in fat. Instead, eat more fish and poultry. Portions should be no bigger than the size of a deck of cards. Harvard has found that eating red meat can increase your risk for cancer.

Choose low-fat dairy products instead of higher fat dairy products. Use 2 percent milk, low-fat ice cream, and cheese. If you prefer you can switch to skim milk, low-fat cheese, and fat-free yogurt. These are loaded with probiotics, which keep your digestive system healthy.

Drink wine. Be sure to check with your doctor first but you can also add wine to your diet. If you don't care for alcohol you can also drink purple grape juice instead. Researchers found that a daily glass of wine can add decades to your life.

These are just a few of the essentials to the Mediterranean Diet. If you would like more information visit the Mayo Clinic.

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