Whether you are kicking yourself because you haven’t started your New Year’s resolution and it’s almost Groundhog Day or you are starting to retreat to old bad habits, sticking with a regular healthy diet is still the key to better health.
Maybe procrastination set in because trying to pick a diet became too much–Keto, Paleo, Dash, Whole 30–oh my! Where do you start? As with any new program–check in with your doctor first. But you can get a head start on the research.
The U.S. News and World Report Health report has recently rated the Mediterranean Diet as the best diet overall and the easiest to follow. The diet places an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, olive oil and fish and stays away from red meat, sugar and saturated fat.
The report boasts that the Mediterranean diet may offer a “host of health benefits, including weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention and diabetes prevention and control.”
The Mayo Clinic reports that the diet has been associated with a lower level of LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol that’s more likely to build up deposits in the arteries. In addition, the Mayo Clinic reports that the Mediterranean diet also is associated with a reduced incidence of cancer, and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, stating that, “for these reasons, most if not all major scientific organizations encourage healthy adults to adapt a style of eating like that of the Mediterranean diet for prevention of major chronic diseases.”
In addition, according to the National Institutes of Health, a large body of research data suggests that traditional dietary habits and lifestyle unique to the Mediterranean region lower the incidence of chronic disease, so much so that the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans include the Mediterranean diet as a healthy dietary pattern.
The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was actually created in 1993 by Oldways in partnership with the Harvard School of Public Health. Further research to its benefits in recent times, has the eating pattern more widely used.
The U. S. News report explains the pyramid emphasizes eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, and flavorful herbs and spices; fish and seafood at least a couple of times a week; and poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation, while saving sweets and red meat for special occasions.
This being more of an eating pattern, than a structured diet, –you have to moderate how much you eat of each. Oldways suggests the following steps to getting started with the Mediterranean Diet:
- Eat lots of vegetables. From a simple plate of sliced fresh tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and crumbled feta cheese to stunning salads, garlicky greens, fragrant soups and stews, healthy pizzas, or oven-roasted medleys, vegetables are vitally important to the fresh tastes and delicious ﬂavors of the Med Diet.
- Change the way you think about meat. If you eat meat, have smaller amounts – small strips of sirloin in a vegetable sauté, or a dish of pasta garnished with diced prosciutto.
- Enjoy some dairy products. Eat Greek or plain yogurt, and try smaller amounts of a variety of cheeses.
- Eat seafood twice a week. Fish such as tuna, herring, salmon, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and shellﬁsh including mussels, oysters, and clams have similar beneﬁts for brain and heart health.
- Cook a vegetarian meal one night a week. Build meals around beans, whole grains, and vegetables, and heighten the ﬂavor with fragrant herbs and spices. Down the road, try two nights per week.
- Use good fats. Include sources of healthy fats in daily meals, especially extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, peanuts, sunﬂower seeds, olives, and avocados.
- Switch to whole grains. Whole grains are naturally rich in many important nutrients; their fuller, nuttier taste and extra ﬁber keep you satisﬁed for hours. Cook traditional Mediterranean grains like bulgur, barley, farro and brown, black or red rice, and favor products made with whole grain ﬂour.
- For dessert, eat fresh fruit. Choose from a wide range of delicious fresh fruits — from fresh ﬁgs and oranges to pomegranates, grapes and apples. Instead of daily ice cream or cookies, save sweets for a special treat or celebration.
For a look at the full news report and links to recipies, check out: