Got weight loss goals? The Mediterranean diet will help lose weight and feel great. Dr Jill Stein describes why and how this healthy eating plan affects your body, brain, and lifestyle…and even how it influences Mother Earth!
“Being able to consume fat while dieting may make the Mediterranean Diet plan easier for some people to adhere to,” says Dr Stein. “And, as as a largely plant-based diet, the Mediterranean Diet plan is good for the planet as well as for people.”
For new, updated tips on this diet, read What is the Mediterranean Diet? Food That Fights Chronic Illness.
And, check out the the The Mediterranean Prescription: Meal Plans and Recipes to Help You Stay Slim and Healthy for the Rest of Your Life. It’s the most popular book on the Mediterranean diet – because it’s excellent!
The Mediterranean Diet – The Healthiest Way to Lose Weight
The Mediterranean Diet consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes (such as lentils and chick peas), whole grains, fish, nuts, unsaturated fatty acids (especially olive and canola oil) and sometimes wine, in modest amounts. The Mediterranean Diet may also include low-moderate quantities of low or no fat varieties of dairy products and meat.
A common misconception about the Mediterranean Diet is that the term “Mediterranean Diet” implies there is a specific diet from the region, but in fact there is no one official Mediterranean Diet. Different versions of the Mediterranean Diet plan use different sources and proportions of vegetable fats (olive oil, canola oil, and nuts), types of carbohydrates, kinds of protein sources (legumes, fish, chicken, eggs and lean meat) and quantities of alcohol (from none to moderate). For instance, here’s info about the Miami Mediterranean Diet Plan.
Regarding the link between the Mediterranean Diet Plan and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases: Several large observational studies (which look at people’s eating habits, and then assess their health many years later) suggest that people on the “Mediterranean Prescription” are much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than people who eat a more typical western diet. These studies also suggest that people with Alzheimer’s who eat a Mediterranean Diet have a greatly reduced mortality rate (by up to 70%), and longer life span (by an average of four years). The one study to date looking specifically at Parkinson’s disease and the Mediterranean Diet plan found that people eating the diet had a reduced risk (by approximately 25%) of developing this disabling disease, as well.
More health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet plan include a reduced risk of developing heart disease, diabetes (by as much as 80%) and cancer as well as the mortality from heart disease, cancer and all causes in general (according to observational studies).
Many people think dieting means you have to strictly limit your fat intake to achieve your weight loss goals. Not true! In the Mediterranean Diet plan, the emphasis is not so much on reducing fat intake as it is on choosing healthy types of fat. Specifically, the Mediterranean Diet avoids unhealthy saturated fats in meats and dairy products, and trans fats in hydrogenated oils found in many processed foods. Instead the Mediterranean Diet plan encourages the consumption of healthy polyunsaturated fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids (in canola oil, fish, walnuts and green vegetables like spinach), and mono-unsaturated fats (in olive oil and canola oil).
As a largely plant-based diet, the Mediterranean Diet plan is good for Mother Earth, too. Plant-based foods require less energy and less land to produce than animal-based foods. This means less global warming, more food to go around, and healthier ecosystems in general. And since the food of the Mediterranean Diet Plan is unprocessed, much of it can often be produced sustainably (“organically”) by local family farms and agricultural coops. That can provide green jobs and create a hedge against the unstable cost of food transportation – while also helping to improve community nutrition and food security.
If you have any thoughts or questions about the Mediterranean Prescription, please comment below…
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Dr. Jill Stein is a board certified internist, health and environmental advocate, and author.