A Mediterranean Diet Is Healthier And Can Help With Weight Loss

Mediterranean Diets Feature Fresh, Light Foods!

Olive oil and tomatoes, two delicious parts of a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet!
Olive oil and tomatoes, two delicious parts of a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet! | Source

A Mediterranean Diet Is Heart Healthy, Too!

A Mediterranean diet can potentially help reduce or hinder the development of conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It has also been found that following this type of diet can help with weight loss. Some people struggle throughout life looking for ways to effectively manage their weight or to lose excess weight. Some are successful at weight loss, only to see it quickly come back again.

Following a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet is not only following a diet, it is really making some lifestyle changes and choices that, when combined with the basic Mediterranean diet, also helps in the weight loss process. Eating meals together as a family and truly enjoying each other’s company helps a person to slow down their eating and helps their brain to get the important signals of fullness sooner, keeping one from overeating.

People in Mediterranean countries also have a tendency to be more physically active. In addition, portion sizes are often smaller than those found on people’s plates in western countries. Emphasis is placed on the taste of food and enjoying it slowly, along with food seasonings and spices instead of from fats like butter and salt for taste.


How A Mediterranean Diet Helps With Weight Loss

There are several important ways that a Mediterranean diet, along with some simple lifestyle changes can help with weight loss. They include:


• The Inclusion of More Fruits and Vegetables – Since the food pyramid is different in a Mediterranean diet, featuring healthy vegetables and fruits as the biggest part of the pyramid, calories consumed are less. There are other benefits of a diet rich in plant-based foods including more dietary fiber and vitamins.

• Healthier Fats are Used – Using more olive oil in place of butter and trans-fats is healthier and can lead to weight loss. Flavored olive oil can be used as bread dip and plain olive oil can be used for healthier cooking

• A Diet Featuring Lean Meats and Healthy Protein – In a Mediterranean diet, the emphasis is on more fish and very lean meats instead of red meat and fatty meats. Fish are consumed several days a week or more, since fish are found abundantly in Mediterranean countries.

In addition, increased physical activity is a part of Mediterranean life, and this practice can be adopted by anyone wishing to lose weight and maintain a healthier weight.


Olive Oil is an Important Staple in the Mediterranean Diet

Even though olive oil is a fat, it is a healthier fat than those consumed in diets found in other countries. Olive oil is well-known for being primarily a monounsaturated fat. These types of fats have the effect on the human body of reducing LDL, or low-density lipoprotein levels of cholesterol in the blood. This has a beneficial effect of helping to prevent heart disease. The best types of olive oils to consume are the virgin or extra virgin varieties, since they are processed the least.

Olive oil is used in cooking and as a condiment in a Mediterranean diet. Bread can be dipped in flavorful olive oil instead of coated in butter. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over pasta or vegetables, and then add herbs and spices for flavor. Olive oil becomes a multipurpose staple in the household, replacing unhealthy fats.

The most harmful fats are oils that are hydrogenated, also known as Tran’s fats, and saturated fats, often found in cooking methods used in places with higher incidences of heart disease. Food in a Mediterranean diet is almost never fried. Most foods are served in their natural form. When they are cooked, they are steamed, grilled, broiled or baked.


Fish Are another Crucial Part of a Mediterranean Diet


Fish are a prominent part of the Mediterranean diet, and are normally eaten at least twice a week. The most common fish choices are mackerel, salmon, trout, tuna packed in water or herring. The most common cooking methods are baking, grilling and broiling. Fish tastes better when cooked in healthier ways, and cleanup is easy after cooking.

Spices and herbs are used in original and creative ways to add flavor. It may seem like it would be easier to add butter and salt for flavor, but using the right spices in the right amount is even tastier and can lead to more enjoyment of food. Savory food can help in any weight loss plan to keep a person from feeling deprived.


Fruits, Vegetables and Nuts Are Other Important Components


Plant-based foods should make up most of one’s daily calorie intake when following a Mediterranean diet. Fresh vegetables and fruits are vitally important and they taste great. They are included in every meal. People in the Mediterranean also eat them throughout the day as healthy snacks.

It helps to think of creative ways to add healthier plant-based foods to the diet. Making delicious salads to go with meals is one good way to increase the use of fruits and vegetables. It’s also good to keep plenty of apples, bananas and freshly prepared vegetables readily available for snacks to help satisfy hunger between meals.

Small amounts of nuts are also a good dietary addition, since they add healthy protein and fiber to the diet. They also have healthier fats in them, but should be limited to about a handful a day because of their calories. The best choices in nuts include pistachios, cashews, walnuts and almonds in their natural form, with no sugar or salt added.


A Mediterranean Diet is a Healthier Option For Life

Since a Mediterranean diet includes more vegetables and fruits, features very little red meat and limits fat intake, it can be used for better heart health and for weight loss. Paying attention to portion size is especially important when this diet is followed with the goal in mind of losing weight. This diet can also help one to maintain a good, stable weight once the excess weight is lost.

If dairy foods are used at all, they are found in smaller amounts in a Mediterranean diet. The dairy products chosen are also low-fat choices like fat-free yogurt, lower fat cheeses and skim milk. Eggs are eaten only occasionally. Sweets are normally limited to special occasions.


Mediterranean Inspired Lifestyle Changes Also Help With Weight Loss


Increasing daily exercise is a tremendous help when trying to lose weight, even if that means using walking as your primary form of exercise. Any type of exercise that gets the heart rate up for a period of time is beneficial. Parking farther away from the place you are going and walking the rest of the distance can help. People from Mediterranean countries tend to combine increased physical activity with this diet, which helps to keep them at their ideal weight for good health.

Another important lifestyle change is to eat more slowly. Eating meals together with friends and family can help, along with making conversation an important part of mealtime. Savoring food more slowly also helps instead of eating quickly or eating on the run. Slowing down when eating, chewing thoroughly and enjoying the flavor of every bite are all good habits to get into. It is never too late to adopt healthier eating habits and a healthier lifestyle for more vitality and better health.

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Comments 8 comments

MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

Thank you very much for this endorsement of the Mediterranean diet. It was introduced to me about ten years ago, and I have loved it ever since. It really is heart-healthy and tasty!


KathyH profile image

KathyH 2 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

So glad you enjoyed this MsDora! A Mediterranean diet just seemed like such a healthy alternative to all the crazy diets out there, I love it too! Thanks so much for your great comment, I appreciate that! :)


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

I think this diet is beneficial to the body. I do follow this general guidelines of the program and find it enjoyable and healthy. Thanks for the information.


Kathy H 2 years ago

You're welcome, teaches! I follow some of this diet, too, and I think it is beneficial. Thanks for your comments! :)


Whidbeywriter profile image

Whidbeywriter 2 years ago from Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, Washington

Love this diet! My husband went through open heart surgery and he is also diabetic, so we are constantly finding ways to help him eat healthier and less. He is doing so much better, has lost over 35 lbs, we know it works! Thanks for sharing the info.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 2 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

You're welcome, Whidbeywriter! So glad you found the article helpful! :) We've been following some of this diet as well. I've lost four pounds so far, so it's a start! :) Thanks so much for commenting!!


ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 2 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

I had the opportunity to take a tour of Israel for two weeks, and I totally agree with you on Mediterranean diets being healthy. One of the things I noticed was the abundance and inclusion of lots of veggies and fruits in every meal. Meals tastes better too.

I also observed the fresh milk didn't cause me any digestive problems even though I'm lactose intolerant.

Great hub. Voted up, useful and interesting.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 2 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Thank you so much for sharing your insight and experience, ComfortB! Sounds like you enjoyed your time in Israel! :) Thank you for your kind words and for the positive votes!! I appreciate that! :)

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