Every season seems to bring to the light a new fad diet, based on a new concept, from your astrology sign to your blood type or centered around a specific ingredient. That is normal, everybody wants to lose weight these days, many just to look and feel better, including the self-esteem part, but many others just to feel healthier in the first place.
The main focus of the Mediterranean diet is to use simple natural ingredients in a well-balanced diet.
Origins of the Mediterranean diet
The concept of the Mediterranean diet was analyzed by an American couple in the early ’70s, the biologist Ancel Keys and his wife, the chemist Margaret Keys. They looked at the food patterns of the people living in Crete, Greece, and Italy during the ’60s and how that impacted their health, especially their heart system. They saw that they had great heart health, despite eating a lot of fat.
They noted the simplicity of the ingredients and methods of preparation, which was already in a clash with the tendencies growing in the United States then, aiming towards fast food.
Overall, the Mediterranean diet should not be compared to the weight-loss fad diets, but rather considered as a lifestyle way of feeding your body, to make a difference in your health.
In 2010, the UNESCO placed the Mediterranean diet on the intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list, defining it as “a set of skills, knowledge, rituals, symbols, and traditions concerning crops, harvesting, fishing, animal husbandry, conservation, processing, cooking, and particularly the sharing and placed the Mediterranean diet on the consumption of food”, not as a particular set of foods.
After the publication of their first conclusions in 1975, much research was done to analyze the health benefits of the diet on weight, on the heart, liver and every major organ of the body. It is probably the most scientifically studied diet in history.
Of course, with such a large number of studies, you will find contradicting results. Differences may arise by the study methodology, the test population size or simply by the state of knowledge at the time. This diet has been analyzed for over 40 years now and it is the subject of new reports every year.
It is hard to find unanimous conclusions on specific health benefits for a given organ, the heart for example. However, most studies agree that it is a healthy, balanced diet and that eating simpler, fresher ingredients in less transformed foods, with a better quality of fat can only be an excellent thing for our body. The main advantage being to keep it healthy with a good supply of nutrients, the weight loss is a (good) side effect.
Practice of the Mediterranean Diet
If you want to make the move, remember that the Mediterranean diet is not about eating specific (individual or combined) ingredients more about families of ingredients. It does not direct you to eat this as your breakfast and that for lunch. The recommendations are not per meal or even per day, but rather on a weekly basis.
Here are some suggestions and general guidelines:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables: 7 to 10 servings a day.
- Go for whole grains: whole-grain bread, cereal, and pasta.
- Use healthy fat: try olive oil as a replacement for butter when cooking. Instead of putting butter or margarine on bread, try dipping it in flavored olive oil.
- Eat fish or seafood twice a week. Fresh or water-packed tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel, and herring are healthy choices. Grilled fish tastes good and requires little cleanup. Avoid deep-fried fish.
- Reduce red meat to a minimum, make sure it is lean and keep portions small.
- Enjoy some dairy: low-fat Greek or plain yogurt and small amounts of a variety of cheeses.
- Spice it up: herbs and spices boost flavor and lessen the need for salt.
- Added sugar: soda, candies, ice cream, table sugar, and many others.
- Refined grains: white bread, pasta made with refined wheat, etc.
- Trans fats: found in margarine and various processed foods.
- Refined oils: soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, and others.
- Processed meat: processed sausages, cold cuts, hot dogs, etc.
- Highly processed foods: anything labeled “low-fat” or “diet” or which looks like it was made in a factory.
Water should be your go-to beverage on a Mediterranean diet. This diet also includes moderate amounts of red wine—around one glass per day.
If you become hungry between meals, there are plenty of healthy snack options: eating a handful of nuts, a piece of fruit, carrots or baby carrots, some berries or grapes, leftovers from the night before, Greek yogurt or apple slices with almond butter.
It’s on our menu!
You can get excellent fish and seafood meals cooked in the spirit of the Mediterranean diet right here at Socarrat Paella Bar. Take a look at the menu, where you can choose among our grilled fishes (tuna, codfish) or our many paellas (fish and seafood, meat, veggie), and conclude your meal with a delicious selection of cheeses.