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This diet takes on a distinctive diet by the natives of the Mediterranean region and applies those principles to gain the benefits of low saturated fats and high antioxidants from the food. As for any diet program or structure, there is a food pyramid created that illustrates the general idea of the diet in detail. The pyramid, for the Mediterranean diet, would consist of high quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables which are followed by lots of proteins and whole grains. Despite having high amounts of fat in the diet, the source comes from monounsaturated fats that are adept for both heart and body.

Foods to Eat When on Diet

According to the Women's Heart Foundation, Greeks live longer than any other culture in the world... and coronary artery disease causes 20 percent fewer deaths in Greece than the United States. There are four major food groups in this diet...
  1. Fruits and Vegetables
  2. Poultry, Fish, and Seafood
  3. Healthy Fats
  4. Liquids
The breakdown of these food groups is that you're supposed to base your meals around fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, legumes, nuts, and cook them in healthy oils. Fish and seafood should be included at least twice a week. Poultry, eggs, yogurt, and cheese can be eaten in moderate portions. And as for meats and sugary foods, "less is better". With this understanding, let's take a closer look at what falls under the Mediterranean food category.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Vegetables and Fruits

Fruits and vegetables fall at the bottom of the list pyramid where the intake is high. Types of vegetables included in this category are eggplant, celery, sweet potatoes, peppers, broccoli rabe, spinach, onions, peas, broccoli, artichokes, lettuce, mushrooms, carrots, and chickpeas (legume). You can also include nuts and seeds to this diet, like sunflower seeds, walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, and walnuts. Substitute juicy fruits for sweets and desserts, such as grapes, cherries, grapefruit, melons, berries, dates, apples, oranges, avocados, peaches, and tomatoes. (Serving size 8 - 10)

Poultry and Fish

Eggs

Substituting red meat (you can also consume small helpings of beef or pork) with chicken and fish is always the number one recommendation for this diet. You can also have total 7 eggs in a week's time, which also includes the ones in certain recipes. Fish and seafood like salmon, tuna, mackerel, anchovies, hrimp, crab, sardines, and albacore are amazing providers of omega 3 essential fatty acids that has been proven to improve overall health of the heart and lower triglyceride levels. And as for poultry, use the white meat (not the fats or skin) of chicken and turkey for your recipes. (Serving size 2 per week)

Healthy Fats

Milk

A typical household would pretty much cook foods in butter or margarine. To strictly follow the list, you have to severely cut down on unnecessary fats and use olive oil, canola oil, and avocado oil extensively. As a principal source of fat, olive oil has to be used for all kinds of food preparations: bread, pasta, stir-fry vegetables, and dressing over salads. Eating nuts is also a good source of healthy foods. You can add roasted nuts in with pasta and salads, or eat them after soaking the nuts overnight. These monounsaturated fats help reduce blood cholesterol levels and keep the heart diseases at bay.

Liquids

Water

One glass of red wine everyday with the meal or main course (Men - 10 oz of wine and Women - 5 oz of wine) is ideal while on this diet. Red wine is an excellent source of flavonoids that contain antioxidant properties. However, it is necessary that you don't overdo it. Plus, drinking at least 6 glasses of water is very important. Although, I would advice you to speak to your doctor about what is the ideal amount of water recommended for you.

What to Avoid When on Diet

Butter

As for the strict "no-nos" in your diet, make sure you do not include...
  • Sausage and bacon
  • Margarine and butter
  • High fat dairy
  • Red meat
  • Limited egg intake
By integrating this diet as part of your daily meals, you are also lowering the risks of heart diseases. In addition to that, the diet not only consists of delicious foods to eat, but is also easy to follow. So, as we have that understood, let me help explain the food list to you in a way it will make proper sense. The list of foods are helpful because the foods have gone through very little processing and are mostly fresh.

Also, instead of using only salt to season, the foods need lots of herbs and spices as well. All you have to do is make small adjustments and substitutions to your regular eating habits; such as, instead of eating too much of red meat, substitute it with chicken and fish. Now this doesn't mean you quit eating red meat. Get leaner cuts of red meat and cook it in olive or canola oil (instead of butter). An article published in "Annals of Internal Medicine" in 2009 has advised, ...some type 2 diabetic patients may not need medication after following the Mediterranean diet... Talk to your family doctor and take correct advice if you should follow the list and how to go about it. The effects and benefits of the diet is hard to dispute due to its obvious reasons.