If you ask anyone – whether in Japan, the UK or Norway – if they heard about the Mediterranean diet, they would probably say yes. If you ask them what it actually consists of, most of them won’t probably know. Deemed by the US News and World Report as the best diet for 2019, the Mediterranean diet is followed mainly by the people from countries bordering the Mediterranean sea, like Italy, Spain, Greece, France and even Portugal (even though it isn't actually on the Med).
Even if it has the word diet in it, the Mediterranean diet is more of a way of living and eating healthy. It differs from country to country, but at its core is based on vegetables, legumes, cereals and fish. The Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition says that one of the main pros of the Mediterranean diet is that it helps prevent illnesses like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
The Mediterrean diet is largely considered responsible for making Spain the healthiest place to live in the world, according to a Bloomberg study last month, and contributes it's long life expectancy - currently the longest in Europe and set to be
A waiter serves paella on a beach in Ibiza. Photo: AFP
These are the top ten tips that will make your eating habits healthier:
– Have food rich with fibres, minerals and anti-oxidants aka fresh and dried fruit. You should consume 3 portions of fresh fruit per day (the more seasonal, the better). As regards dried fruit (like nuts and almonds), you should have it 3-7 times a week; remember to avoid processed fruit cause they might have lost some of their healthiest properties.
– consume cereals (preferably wholegrain - integral in Spanish) every day and legumes (such as lentils and chick peas) 2-4 times a week.
– eat vegetables twice a day and, at least once, they should be raw, preferably added in salads.
– always use virgin olive oil, both for cooking and for flavouring. Cut down on your consumption of animal fats (butter, sausages, ham, …) and avoid anything fried.
– eat more fish than meat but if you feel like you can’t give up on it, eat more white meat (chicken, turkey, rabbit) than red meat (ham, veal, game). As a general rule, meat should not be consumed more than 2-3 times a week.
– avoid consuming processed food, especially those that containing hydrogenated vegetable oil. They are usually present in products like margarine and pastries, but they are not good for your health.
– eat 3-7 eggs per week: they have all the nutrients you need and therefore are a complete meal in and of themselves.
– avoid all sugary drinks and super-processed foods.
– have dairy twice a day. While Infants, children, pregnant women and women in menopause should add a third one to their daily diet, people suffering from obesity, high cholesterol and cardio-vascular problems should have it skimmed. Yoghurt is an extremely healthy way of incorporating dairy into your daily eating habits.
– use iodized salt in small quantities. If you feel like your food doesn’t taste much, use aromatic herbs like oregano and parsley instead.
It feels redundant to say it, but you also need to drink two litres of water every day and exercise regularly!
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By Ilaria Grasso Macola / The Local Spain