Mediterranean Diet: Is It Worth the Hype?

By on September 13, 2014
Gluten-free diets, Paleo diets and now the Mediterranean diet. Where do you start? With so many diets popping up each year, with some fads and some legitimate, it can be hard to decide what is healthy for you and will actually help you lose weight. Mediterranean diets aren’t all about losing weight. In fact, they focus more on heart health by incorporating the basics of a healthy diet and adding a splash of olive oil, red wine and other traditional Mediterranean cooking methods to create a unique, fun diet plan.

So What is the Mediterranean Diet?
This is where it gets tricky. There isn’t a strict, one-size-fits-all diet plan. In fact, the diet can vary by what area of the Mediterranean you’re looking at. After all, Italians don’t eat the same as Greeks. But, for the most part you will find a lot of fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, healthy grains, fish, olive oil, red wine and a small amount of meat and dairy products.

The diet itself does encourage regular exercise and flavorful meals built upon different spices — those typical of Mediterranean regions.

Does It Really Work?
When it comes to heart health, yes. In fact, studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet can actually lower your blood pressure, lower bad cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease. Some studies have even suggested that the diet will reduce your risk for certain chronic conditions and cancers.

As for losing weight, the Mediterranean diet does do that, but it usually helps if you stick to the meal plan for at least six months to see significant results. Also, you need regular exercise and you need to cut down to smaller portion sizes to actually lose the weight. But, studies have shown that this diet may be more effective at losing weight than traditional low-fat diets.

Is It Risky?
Compared to other diets, no. The Mediterranean diet is well-balanced and is generally safe for everyone, including children. But, if you have any chronic health conditions or you are pregnant, you should still speak with your physician before trying the diet.

It Is Adaptable?
Unlike other diet plans, the Mediterranean diet can be adapted to special dietary needs. For example, if you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can still use the Mediterranean diet. People on low-salt diets can still participate, and those with the need for gluten-free can too.

Overall, the Mediterranean diet scores highly with professionals because it uses common sense diet strategies and combines them with exercise to reduce the risk for heart health and help people live healthier lives.

Readers: Have you tried the Mediterranean diet? What are your thoughts and experiences?

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