The focus of the Mediterranean diet is on your entire lifestyle. Paying attention to lifestyle changes, such as changing your portion sizes and exercising regularly, is the only way to see long-term results. Weight-loss diets come and go, and most can help you lose the weight, but they aren’t something you can live with long term.
The Mediterranean diet helps you pay attention to your individual lifestyle, including the types of foods you eat, the portion sizes you consume, your physical activities, and your overall way of life. You can incorporate these changes into your daily life and create long-term habits that bring you not only weight loss but also sustained weight loss.
The heart-healthy Mediterranean diet is a healthy eating plan based on typical foods and recipes of Mediterranean-style cooking. The Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating, plus a splash of flavorful olive oil and perhaps a glass of red wine, among other components characterizing the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. The diet has been associated with a lower level of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol that’s more likely to build up deposits in your arteries.
Most healthy diets include fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, and limit unhealthy fats. While these parts of a healthy diet are tried-and-true, subtle variations or differences in proportions of certain foods may make a difference in your risk of heart disease.
Scientists split the people into three groups; one stuck with a Mediterranean diet and was given extra-virgin olive oil donated by an olive oil company to cook their meals. Another group ate a Mediterranean diet and was given a mix of nuts by a nut company to add to their diets. Another group was advised to avoid all dietary fat. Each group was given some dietary counseling through the five years of the study. None of the groups was given advice about exercise.
All three groups lost a little bit of weight. The group that was given the extra-virgin olive oil and ate the Mediterranean diet did the best. There was a significant weight loss at both the three- and five-year mark compared with the group eating the low-fat diet. This group lost about 2 pounds, while the low-fat group lost 1.3 pounds.
Waist size did go up slightly for all three groups. The low-fat dieters saw the biggest increase, of 1.2 centimeters (about 0.47 inches), compared with 0.85 centimeters (about 0.33 inches) for the olive oil group. The group that got extra nuts went up the least: about 0.37 centimeters (about 0.14 inches).
The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid is based on the dietary traditions of Crete, Greece, and southern Italy circa 1960 at a time when the rates of chronic disease among populations there were among the lowest in the world, and adult life expectancy was among the highest, even though medical services were limited.
Aside from eating a diet consisting mainly of fresh and homegrown foods instead of processed goods, other vital elements to the Mediterranean diet are daily exercise, sharing meals with others, and fostering a deep appreciation for the pleasures of eating healthy and delicious foods.
At the end of the day, the Mediterranean diet is incredibly healthy and satisfying. You won’t be disappointed.