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What is the Mediterranean Diet?

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Old 11-13-2004, 09:41 PM   #1
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Default What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet isn't a diet like Weight Watchers, South Beach, or Atkins. It doesn't come with a set menu plan, calorie limits, carb counts, or a list of allowed foods. Instead, it's a way of eating that has been followed in the Mediterranean region, by what may be the healthiest people on the planet.

Cuisines you will enjoy: Italian, Greek, Moroccan, and more. You'll enjoy lentils, pasta, seafood, lots of fresh veggies and fruits, grains, dairy, etc. You won't have Big Macs, processed frozen dinners, etc. You will cook fresh foods, so don't choose this plan if you don't like to cook.

General guidelines:
These are just guidelines, not requirements. Obviously since our goal is to lose or maintain weight, then we should practice portion control. Just use common sense when preparing your meals. Measure anything that is dense in calories so you don't go overboard. Chose low fat varieties of cheeses or yogurts when possible. And so on.

Here are the general guidelines provided by Oldways:

Quote:
1. An abundance of food from plant sources, including fruits and vegetables, potatoes, breads and grains, beans, nuts, and seeds;
2. Emphasis on a variety of minimally processed and, wherever possible, seasonally fresh and locally grown foods (which often maximizes the health-promoting micronutrient and antioxidant content of these foods);
3. Olive oil as the principal fat, replacing other fats and oils (including butter and margarine);
4. Total fat ranging from less than 25 percent to over 35 percent of energy, with saturated fat no more than 7 to 8 percent of energy (calories);
5. Daily consumption of low to moderate amounts of cheese and yogurt (low-fat and non fat versions may be preferable);
6. Weekly consumption of low to moderate amounts of fish and poultry (recent research suggests that fish be somewhat favored over poultry); from zero to four eggs per week (including those used in cooking and baking);
7. Fresh fruit as the typical daily dessert; sweets with a significant amount of sugar (often as honey) and saturated fat consumed not more than a few times per week;
8. Red meat a few times per month (recent research suggests that if red meat is eaten, its consumption should be limited to a maximum of 12 to 16 ounces {340 to 450 grams} per month; where the flavor is acceptable, lean versions may be preferable);
9. Regular physical activity at a level which promotes a healthy weight, fitness and well-being; and
10. Moderate consumption of wine, normally with meals; about one to two glasses per day for men and one glass per day for women (from a contemporary public health perspective, wine should be considered optional and avoided when consumption would put the individual or others at risk.)



Resources:
http://www.mediterraneandiet.gr/
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Old 11-13-2004, 11:42 PM   #2
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There has been a LOT of interest in the Mediterranean diet over the last few years, and more so the last few months. Many experts believe it to be healthier than the popular diets of today, including low carb plans. We predict that this type of eating will only become more popular over the next few years, and will become more of a focus for weight loss. Some of our members have lost a lot of weight following this eating style. You can forget everything you've learned about other diets, it doesn't apply here.

We're excited about starting this new forum and hope others will be interested in joining in with us
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Old 11-14-2004, 08:29 AM   #3
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Default Essential Elements of the Mediterranean Diet

Essential Elements of the Mediterranean Diet

Abundance of food from plant sources, including fruits and vegetables, potatoes, breads and grains (including pasta and rice), beans, nuts and seeds.

Emphasis on variety of minimally processed and seasonally fresh and locally grown foods.

Olive oil as principal fat, replacing other fats and oils (including butter, margarine and other vegetable oils).

Total fat ranging from less than 25% to over 35% of calories, with not more than 7 to 8% of calories coming from saturated fats.

Daily consumption of low to moderate amounts of cheese and yogurt (Low-fat and nonfat versions may be preferable).

Consumption of low to moderate amounts of fish and poultry several times a week (with recent research somewhat favoring fish over poultry); from zero to 4 eggs per week (including those used in cooking and baking)

Fresh fruit as typical daily dessert; sweets with significant amount of sugar (often as honey) and saturated fat consumed not more than few times per week.

Red meat consumed only few times per month (Recent research suggests a maximum of 12 to 16 oz. per month).

Regular physical activity at level that promotes healthy weight, fitness and well-being.

Moderate consumption of wine, normally with meals - 1 to 2 glasses per day for men; 1 for women. (From current public health perspective, wine should be considered optional and should be avoided when consumption would put individual or others at risk.)

Today, many scientists actively endorse the benefits of the Mediterranean menu. Studies continue to show a distinct correlation between the foods eaten by the people living in the Mediterranean region and a pattern of lower incidence of coronary heart disease, as well as other diseases.



Ingredients


Due to the long and extensive history of Mediterranean cooking, it is difficult to list every ingredient found in the Mediterranean diet. Therefore, the following includes the most frequently used ingredients.

Olive Oil

Olive oil has been the most distinguishing element of Mediterranean cooking for thousands of years. The primary producers of olive oil are Spain, Italy, Greece, Tunisia, Turkey, Syria, Morocco, and Algeria. Spanish and Italian olive oils dominate international markets.

Extra virgin and virgin olive oils: These olive oils have long shelf life and are high in anti-oxidants. Therefore, they can be repeatedly deep-fried without losing stability.

Olive oil: This is the most commonly used olive oil. Olive oil is a blend of refined olive oil and virgin oil. It is also suitable for deep-frying.

Light and extra light olive oil: These oils are pure olive oil blended with a small amount of virgin oil. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats (the "good" fats) and high in anti-oxidants, and is therefore recommended by health experts. Anti-oxidants are beneficial to coronary arteries, and have been found to reduce the risk of developing breast and bowel cancers. Although it is not good to consume too much of any type of fat, the fats found in olive oil are digested and metabolized more efficiently than other fats.

Olives

Olives have been used in Mediterranean appetizers for thousands of years. Green olives are often stuffed while black olives may be soaked in olive oil. Olives of different varieties are used in numerous Mediterranean dishes to add a distinct flavor.

Onions


Onions are often used in Mediterranean dishes to accentuate the flavor of oils. Spring onions, leeks, and shallots are used in various Mediterranean regions.

Garlic

Purple-skinned garlic, often referred to as Italian garlic, is the most widely used type of Garlic in the Mediterranean. Garlic produces a pleasant flavor and aroma when sautéed in oil. Garlic may be roasted or crushed, depending on the dish. Many health benefits have been associated with garlic and it is often consumed in capsule form. Research indicates that garlic can increase HDL-cholesterol (which is beneficial) while decreasing harmful LDL-cholesterol.

Tomato


Although the tomato serves as an essential ingredient in Mediterranean cooking, its appearance in the Mediterranean is fairly recent. The Spaniards brought the tomato to the Mediterranean from the New World. Initially, the tomato was considered an ornamental plant, not suitable for eating. Since the end of the eighteenth century, it has been used in various Mediterranean dishes. Tomatoes can be used in various ways. They can be sun-dried, pureed, sliced, or made into a sauce. Today, the tomato serves as a staple in the diet of many Italians.

Fish

The following lists a number of different types of fish used in a variety of Mediterranean dishes: Clams, mussels, squid, cuttlefish, and octopus.

Herbs

Mediterranean cooking makes use of a vast array of herbs to provide extraordinary flavor and aroma. These herbs are found throughout the Mediterranean but not widely used in every Mediterranean country:

Anise, basil, bay leaves, borage, bouquet garni, caraway, chamomile, chervil, chives, corainder, dill, fennel, herbes de provence, lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rigani, rosemary, sage, savory, sorrel, tarragon, and thyme.

Nuts and Seeds


Nuts in many countries are considered a snack food. In the Mediterranean, they hold a much greater significance. Nuts have often been used to thicken sauces and give certain dishes texture. Oil has also been extracted from nuts. In earlier times, nuts were especially important because of their long shelf life. The following is a list of nuts found in a multitude of Mediterranean dishes.

Almonds, pistachio nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pine nuts, and chestnuts.

Bread

Bread is perhaps the most fundamental part of the Mediterranean diet. Hundred of different types of bread exist throughout the Mediterranean, ranging from pita bread to Italian crostini. Dough is used to create a variety of foodstuffs, including various types of pasta.

Cheese

Cheeses of the Mediterranean are most commonly made from sheep and goat's milk. Some of the more popular varieties are bocconcini, feta, haloumi, kasseri, kefalograviera, kefalotiri, mascarpone, parmesan, and pecorino.




Source cited: Readers Digest Mediteterranean Cookbook, by Tess Mallos
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Old 11-14-2004, 08:37 AM   #4
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Default Health Benefits

Although as much as 40% of total daily calories are from fat in the traditional Mediterranean diet, cardiovascular diseases is substantially decreased. As a monounsaturated fatty acid, olive oil does not raise cholesterol to the same extent as do saturated fats. Olive oil is also a good source of antioxidants. Eating fish a few times per week benefits the Mediterraneans by increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating red meat sparingly seems to also increase health by lowering cholesterol.

Fats are large molecules constructed from glycerol and fatty acids. Glycerol is an alcohol with three carbons bearing a hydroxyl group. A fatty acid had a long carbon chain with one end consisting of a carboxyl group. If there are no double bonds between the carbon atoms composing the tail, then hydrogen atoms are bonded to the carbon skeleton making a saturated fatty acid. An unsaturated fatty acid has one or more double bonds, formed by the removal of hydrogen atoms from the skeleton.

Most animal fats such as grease, butter, lard and oils are made of saturated fats. They solidify at room temperature. In contrast, unsaturated fats of plants and fish are liquid at room temperature. The kinks where the double bonds are located prevent the molecules from packing together closely enough to solidify at room temperature. Humans and other mammals stock their long-term food reserves in adipose tissue, which swell and shrink based on fat intake. A diet rich in saturated fats (one full of junk food) is one that may contribute to obesity and cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis. In this condition, deposits called plaques develop on the internal lining of blood vessels. They can impede blood flow and cause overworking of the heart.

Cholesterol can also have an effect on the body. Cholesterol molecules help keep cell membrane fluidity in the body. Cholesterol travels in blood as low-density lipoproteins, complexes of lipids and proteins. These particles bind to LDL receptors on membranes and enter the cell. In humans, high cholesterol can causes the LDL receptor proteins to be defective and LDL particles cannot enter the cell. Cholesterol then accumulates in the blood and can cause blockages.

Omega 3 fatty acids are oils from flaxseed (fed to chicken), fish and a type of algae food on the market that is a supplement to chicken feed in Europe. Omega-3's are essential fatty acids that our bodies cannot create without first obtaining them from food. The 'omega' number defines which carbon the first double bond occurs in a carbon chain that begins with a methyl group and ends with an acid group. Linolenic acid, the primary omega-3 fatty acid, can be obtained through many fats, oils, nuts, and soybeans. However, while eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are also from the omega-3 family, can both be created by the body in the presence of linolenic acid, they are best available through breast milk for infants and seafood for adults.

EPA and DHA are very important for normal brain development, communication, and vision. What has brought these fish oils into the spotlight in recent years, however, are the possible protective roles on arthritis, hypertension, cancer, and heart disease. Many studies have shown a positive relationship between the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids to a decrease of symptoms in chronic conditions such as rthritis and lupus. Some studies have suggested that an increase in omega-3 fatty acids may actually help to prevent rheumatoid arthritis, while other research has supported a decrease in childhood asthma symptoms and incidence. Some research debates these claims.

The majority of omega-3 research has focused on the relationship these fats have with heart disease. According to a brief overview published in an American Dietetic Association's Nutrition in Complementary Care newsletter, omega-3 fatty acids "are believed to contribute to an overall vascular environment less prone to occlusion by atherosclerotic plaques." This statement significantly describes the direct benefit of fish-oils to increased cardiovascular health.

Antioxidants are nature’s protection against assault by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that punch holes into our body’s cellular walls, damaging DNA, the genetic material within the cells. The damage to the body is similar to rust on an old car, reducing the body’s capability to combat aging, cancer, hardening of the arteries, and other degenerative changes. Only recently have scientists discovered the immunity-boosting, antiaging, health-promoting effects of antioxidants and phytochemicals. Evidence suggests that these substances can offer protection against premature aging and delay or even reverse certain chronic diseases. Current research indicates that antioxidants may offer protection against the following diseases: heart attack, stroke, hardening of the arteries cancer aging (i.e. slowing the aging process), Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, certain eye diseases, arthritis, and osteoporosis.

Antioxidants receiving the most attention have been Vitamins E and C and beta-carotene. Vitamin E has the most well documented success in combating heart disease. Many studies have shown a consistently inverse relationship between Vitamin E and rate of heart disease and heart attacks. Beta-carotene has also been shown to reduce rate of heart attacks. Research on vitamin C has been less persuasive for combating heart disease. However, vitamin C appears to protect vitamin E from damage, thus, indirectly reducing risk for heart attacks.



Works/Links Cited

Campbell, Neil. Biology. Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Co. New York, 1996.

Health Benefits: Mediterranean Diet claims to lowers risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.

http://www.onhealth.com

Nutritional Aspects: Incorporation of Mediterranean Ingredients into American Diet

http://nutrition.about.com

Health Benefits of Antioxidants

http://www.hcf-nutrition.org
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Old 01-13-2008, 10:11 AM   #5
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Default Great Apples and Wine

The Mediterranean diet is an ancient eating habit used by the Mediterranean people.

It's not a strictly diet but a philosophy to approach foods.

It's based on 7 simple foods categories:
  1. Fresh fruit (Apples, Pears, berries, oranges, lemons)
  2. Vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onions, eggplants, zucchini)
  3. Beans
  4. Pasta and bread
  5. Meat (poultry, rabbit, fish, goat)
  6. Red wine
  7. Milk and Cheese (from sheep)

An example of a typical eating day is based on 5 phases
  1. Breakfast
  2. Snack (11:00 AM)
  3. Lunch
  4. Snack (18:00 PM)
  5. Dinner

The base concept of this diet is the "Unique plate". It means to join together different food categories.

Some examples are:
  • Pasta with beans (fiber, carbs and veg. proteins)
  • Pizza (veg, proteins and carbs)
  • Greek salads (veg. and fruit)

So...why the Mediterranean diet is so important for our health?

The answer is simple: "Its foods contain healthy elements"

A good example are Polyphenols. Apples and Red wines are a great source of Polyphenols.

According to wikipedia, Polyphenols are a group of chemical substances found in plants, characterized by the presence of more than one phenol group per molecule.

These chemicals can be found in high levels in the fruit skins.

They have an anti-oxidant action that reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Everybody of us know that eating fresh fruit helps preventing cancer and other diseases.

Do you remember the ancient said:"An apple a day keeps the doctor away"?

Now we know it's true. A new study conduced by the Italian cancer league confirms it.

Researchers have demonstrated that eating Apples helps in reducing the cancer cells of:
  • 40-60% (Eat the skin)
  • 30-40% (Eat only the pulp)

Other recent researches have shown that eating apples helps to:
  • Prevent the growth of prostate cancer cells (Thanks to the presence of the flavonoid Quercetin, an anti-oxidant)
  • Inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells (thanks to the skin of apples)
  • Reduce the risk of lung cancer
  • Inhibit the developments of bladder cancer (especially in smokers)

Another great source of polyphenols is Red wine.

On November 2007 issue of The FASEB Journal, some French researches found that polyphenols play a beneficial role on heart and circulatory system.

Polyphenols found in the skin and around the pips of red grapes (not White) facilitate the blood vessel growth.

The quantity of polyphenols necessary to obtain these effects are the equivalent of 1 glass of wine a day.

The wines that boast the biggest amount of polyphenols are those using Tannat (A red wine grape grown in southern France).

To increase your healthy life style you can:
  • Eat fruit out of the principal meals. You can use it as snack. (Helpful to lose weight too)
  • Eat 2 fruits at least 2 times a day (2 apples or 1 apple with orange/grape juice)
  • Substitute fatty snacks with an home made apple pie
  • Drink a glass of wine a day (Better for dinner)
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Old 09-29-2008, 04:38 AM   #6
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The Mediterranean Diet is much more important that people thinks. It prevents heart disease, cancer, hyperglycemia and many other health problems. It is not just a diet to lose weight, although it can be use for that. It is a diet to live longer and better. It is so varied that you can enjoy it all your life through. Nothing is banned or prohibited except harmful and artificial products as “trans fats”.
The Mediterranean Diet implies exercise, activity, healthy nutrition and natural products. Mediterranean Diet does not despise exquisite delicacies in occasions. People who follow it do not give the image of eccentric persons that refuses trying an exquisite and healthy meal. This normally is a cause of social rejection and labor disbelieve.
Many diets make your life miserable. This is the reason why they are abandoned after certain time. This does not happen with Mediterranean Diet. If you follow it you will not have psychological lacks.

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Old 11-23-2008, 02:38 PM   #7
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The sonoma diet worked for me for awhile, but I could not live that way for the rest of my forever.
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Old 11-29-2008, 04:47 PM   #8
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I'm from Mediterran , if you want to go on this diet , then you should read The Omega Diet
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Old 03-19-2010, 04:43 PM   #9
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I have been reading about this way of eating for several months now. The only thing is how to get your kids to accept this new way of eating. I want to try this way of eating to lose weight but most of all it seems to be a great way to teach your family to eat right. Can someone who actually eats this way give me any input on how to start this?
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