Countries like Greece, Italy and Spain are known for their authentic cuisine. But gyros, pizza, gelato, and paella aren’t the only traditional foods worth trying from cultures that border the Mediterranean Sea. The traditional eating patterns that stem from these countries form the Mediterranean Diet, an eating plan that’s made a name in nutrition for its ability to combat disease and improve overall health. In fact, the Mediterranean Diet has been named the Best Overall Diet for six years running by the U.S. News and World Report.
As May is National Mediterranean Diet Month, it’s a perfect time to explore the fresh foods and rich flavor in this easy-to-follow eating plan. And if you have a condition like diabetes or heart disease, you may be surprised at how impactful this diet can be for your health!
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean Diet is an eating plan based on the traditional eating patterns of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Rather than restricting calories or removing entire food groups, the Mediterranean Diet focuses on increasing your consumption of whole, nutrient-dense foods and limiting choices that could harm your health. This makes it one of the easiest diet plans to follow and helps support its long-term success.
So which foods should be included in a Mediterranean Diet? Here are a few of the best options:
- Vegetables: Dark leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers, onions, eggplant, zucchini, and artichoke.
- Fruits: Berries, citrus fruits, apples, pears, and grapes.
- Whole Grains: Brown rice, quinoa, and whole-wheat breads.
- Legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, and beans.
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and flaxseeds.
- Fish and Seafood: Salmon, tuna, shrimp, and mussels.
- Olive Oil: This heart-healthy oil is a staple in the Mediterranean Diet for cooking and dressing salads.
It is also important to limit or avoid processed and refined foods, including sugary drinks, white bread, pasta, and sweets. Red meat should be consumed in moderation, and saturated and trans fats should be minimized.
Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
Studies have shown that the Mediterranean Diet can have enormous benefits beyond weight control (though it certainly can help shed unwanted pounds). The plan is high in fiber and low in saturated fat, which can help lower cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and improve overall health. It also encourages a variety of fresh foods from all food groups, which provides important nutrients and vitamins that are essential for body and brain function.
The Mediterranean Diet is also one of the best eating plans for diabetes and other chronic conditions. Following this eating pattern can help manage blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, and lower A1C levels. Eating a balanced diet full of fresh produce helps keep blood glucose stable and can reduce the risk of serious complications like heart disease, stroke, and kidney problems.
Of course, diet alone won’t control your condition. People with diabetes should still test blood sugar levels regularly and take any medications prescribed by your doctor. Together with the Mediterranean Diet, our diabetes testing supply program can help you manage diabetes by delivering quality testing supplies right to your door. Visit us online to learn more!