Being aware of the elementary basics of the mediteranaen diet can really be of great help when it comes to you and your health. And you are just about to find out these things.
1. Making vegetables and fruits your regular
Often times, people see vegetables as something that should be taken alongside with meat. For this very reason, vegetables are not given the priority they deserve in our food balance. Fruits are not excluded in this regards as people are almost replacing fruits with desserts. But it is high time you realized the real place of vegetables and fruits in any balanced diet. It is sad that most persons are not aware that vegetables and fruits are great sources of the following: minerals, vitamins, trace elements and antioxidants. These substances take part in the activities in the body and by so doing help in preventing our tissues from getting old rapidly.
Deficiencies as a result of low fruit and vegetable intake happen to be the root cause of so many health disorders today. Eventually, these foods remain a major source of fiber. And fibers exist in digestible and non-digestible forms. With regards to the kind of fiber, they help protect your body against excess cholesterol, they ensure your chances of getting satisfied are kept at a reasonable level and they play an active part in making sure that fluid transportation around the body is maintained.
2. Improve Fabaceae And Dried Fruits
People have fallen short in terms of how they include foods like beans, lentils and other chickpeas as part of their diet. This is quite unfortunate because not only are they excellent foods, they also equip the body with vitamins, minerals and trace elements. They are also a great source of fiber and high-energy carbohydrates. To sum it up, these foods have been known to contain proteins that are needed by the body when combined with other substances like whole grains (rice and lentils, pasta and chickpeas etc.).
You can still maintain a reasonable level of protein in-take while you reduce your consumption of animal products. Hence, eat regular pulses by having them incorporated to meals that do not contain meat or fish and make sure you associate them to a share of cereals.
Another good choice is dry oleaginous fruits (nuts, almonds etc.). They are known to contain fatty acids (omega-3), which is highly needed for our cardiovascular system and brain to function properly. They are not limited to fatty acids as they also contain minerals (magnesium and anti-stress) and vitamin E.
3. Whole Grains Are Better
Cereals: This is another category of food that makes up a good part of a balanced diet. Originally, it is the whole bread in the Mediterranean diet that is the source of cereals. But you can increase your range of sources by taking wheat in other forms like pasta, couscous seed, bulgur etc. Other sources of cereals also include: rice, burley, buckwheat. You should just ensure that they are refined to a moderate level. It is only proper for them to continue to provide energy for the body since the carbohydrate will be slowly transported round the body, hence providing the body with the energy it needs to function.
Cereals are also a better source of the following: fiber, minerals, vitamins and trace elements. With these nutritional contributions added to that of fruits and vegetables, you can only expect your body system to function in the best way possible.
4. Reduced Meat Intake
Not only do you have to reduce the amount of red meat (beef, lamb etc.), but also the amount of pork and other forms of cold meat, as this will help you in the long run. The above mentioned meats are great sources of protein, however, they are known to contain low-quality fats that contribute to the risk of having congestions in the arteries. And let’s not forget, excessive consumption of it is responsible for maintaining the acidity level in our body, and this results in the untimely wear of our organs.
If you happen to be a moderate consumer of meat then you are on a safe side. You will find it a lot easier to satisfy yourself with a meal every 3 or 4 days. Preferably, you can satisfy yourself with poultry meat like farm chicken, guinea pig, quail or rabbit. These meats are less fatty and their fats are also good quality fats. Consumption of eggs, 3 – maximum of 5 per week is also okay.
Hence, if you are a great lover of meat, you have to slowly reduce your meat in-take. You can start by having just a meal in a day, preferably during lunch. You can continue in this regards until you can comfortably deal with having meals once in every 3 – 4 days. In summary, reduce the amount of red meat and charcuterie you take.
5. Step Up Your Fish Intake
The act of consuming more fish helps the body with the provision of quality protein. They are also known to contain less fats. It will also interest you to know that fish fats are much better than meat fats. Here are a few points to buttress this statement: their fat is mostly unsaturated; they also help in the proper functioning of the brain and cardiovascular system.
You can also be sure of enough minerals in your body when you take sea products like fish, shell fish and crustaceans. It’s advisable you consume fish at least 3 or 4 times a week. If you are not used to the different sea flavors, you can get started with white fish such as monkfish or hake.
6. Fresh Goat or Sheep Cheese Is Okay
Mediterranean diet does not go together with a high consumption of cheeses, most especially the fat cheeses. Traditionally, the countries that are found in the Mediterranean basin eat mainly goat cheese or sheep cheese. These cheeses are either in their fresh (like feta) form or in a very dry (like dung) form. In either of the above mentioned cases, the amount of fats is lesser than Camembert, Brie or Reblochon. It is also worthy to note that the milk produced by goats or sheep is easier to digest than the milk produced by cows.
Consumption of fresh cheese in reasonable level is advised so as to help maintain the level of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium etc. in the body. You can have it included once a day into a meal which does not have meat. The combination of vegetable, goat cheese, legume and whole bread is a rich one in terms of nutrients contained. To make it more nutritional, you can add a yoghurt (goat or sheep), whose sweetness has been enhanced with a teaspoon of honey.
Generally, fats consist of fatty acids. Listed here are the various kinds of fatty acids: saturated, mono-saturated or polyunsaturated. Of all the fatty acids listed, the most dangerous is the saturated fatty acids. This is because they step up the formation of cholesterol and also aid the formation of deposits in the arteries. In contrast, mono or polyunsaturated fatty acids are of great benefits to the body. And this is the case with olive oil. Not only are they responsible for ensuring that the blood cholesterol is normal, but also significant when it comes to having cell walls renewed, most especially nerve cells and brain cells.
7. Do Your Cooking With Olive Oil
Saturated fatty acids are very much present in animal fats (fatty meats, charcuterie, fat cheeses, butter, cream, etc.). But unsaturated fatty acids can be found in vegetable oil and peas. You might want to copy the lifestyle of the Mediterranean people in this regards, by cooking with olive oil. Olive oil is very useful when considered health-wise. It is good enough for baking as it supports heat. You can also use vegetable oils like: soyabean oil, walnut oil, sesame oil etc. – for your seasonings. By doing this you can be assured of two things: decreasing your consumption of saturated fatty acids and balancing your intake of good acids.
8. Spices And Herbs Are Very Essential
Spices are more than what we regard them to be. In addition to the fact that they add flavor to the food, they also contain medicinal substances that serve as an underlying factor when considering the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet. Some examples like basil and saffron help greatly in preventing the effects of stress. Mint and ginger are a great choice. Coriander and star anise help to aid digestion; Thyme and rosemary help to battle against infections; while other spices like turmeric have a great antioxidant power.
9. Cooking Should Be Smooth
Once you have concluded your selection of ingredients, you can just proceed with the cooking. The rule is simple: approach your cooking gently in other to get the maximum benefits of the components involved.
– Deal with fresh foods (fruits and vegetables). Have them peeled only when you want to make use of them. This is so because nutrients get oxidized when they come in contact with the air. Avoid soaking them in water in order to ensure the preservation of those vitamins that can dissolve in water.
– Avoid cooking with very high temperature. The amount of heat from your source should be low. Things like deep frying, barbecue etc. should be avoided because the heat produced by these processes are strong enough to destroy the nutrients present. It is preferable if you steam your food gently. That is to say, things like water should not boil, rather should just simmer.
– You can have your oil reduced during cooking and serve your dish with little vegetable oil. This is highly recommended for health purposes.