Why you should consider trying the Mediterranean Diet

Is this the healthiest diet in the world? Health experts think so.

07 October 2016
by Chisanga Mukuka

We often think of diets as quick fixes and shortcuts to our desired goal, whether we’re aiming for our ideal weight, a flat stomach, or a system detox after we’ve overindulged. However, long-term commitments are rarely part of the diet deal, and understandably so, since many eating plans are either on the extreme end, and can mean cutting out most of the foods we love.

But this doesn’t have to be the case – and those who live in the Mediterranean seem to have known this for years.

How the Mediterranean Diet can help you

The people of Southern Italy, Spain, Cyprus and Greece follow a traditional way of eating that has been noted for its many health benefits. “Dubbed the Mediterranean Diet, this pattern of eating has been studied extensively and has consistently been shown to prevent heart diseases and diabetes,” explains Gabriel Eksteen, a registered dietician at The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa.

And for those wondering if the Mediterranean Diet will help them slim down, it’s also known for preventing weight gain and contributing to weight loss. “It’s not specifically designed as a weight loss diet,” says Eksteen, “but following it can lead to gradual, healthy weight loss.”

What does the diet consist of?

“Think pasta, couscous, chickpeas, olives, nuts, lentils, eggplant, sardines, some chicken and eggs, and lots of vegetables, fruit and salads,” says Eksteen. “This eating pattern is characterised by a high consumption of fruit, vegetables, legumes, and complex carbohydrates, with a moderate consumption of fish; consumption of olive oil as the main source of added fat; and, wine-lovers will be pleased to hear, a low-to-moderate amount of red wine during meals.”

Dairy is to be eaten in moderation. Choosing lower-fat cheeses such as cottage cheese, mozzarella or feta rather than cream cheese or cheddar will reduce your saturated fat intake. Semi-skimmed or skimmed milk rather than full-cream milk is also a lower fat option.

What doesn’t feature much in the diet is red meat, which is eaten once or twice a month. And if you have a sweet tooth, or are fond of processed foods and snacks, those will have to go.

While most diets seem bland and uninspiring, the Mediterranean Diet incorporates a variety of foods, and flavours from different herbs and spices. A Mediterranean pattern of eating can include Italian, Spanish, Greek, and even North African dishes, explains Eksteen. “It’s the perfect excuse to explore new tastes and textures.”

Try it out with this one-day menu

Not too sure where to start? Use this sample one-day menu as an example:

Breakfast: Two slices of whole-grain bread with avocado and a fruit, or Greek yoghurt with apricots and almonds, served with coffee.

Lunch: A halloumi, pear and nut salad with plenty of greens and olive oil dressing, or a chickpea, spinach and tomato salad.

Snack: A handful of nuts and a fruit, or veggie sticks and hummus.

Dinner: Grilled fish served with vegetables and whole-grain spiced couscous, or a pasta with artichokes, olives and tomatoes. Fresh seasonal fruit for dessert, and a glass of good wine with your meal if you’d like.

How Clicks Clinics can help you

Clicks Clinics can help you prevent or manage heart disease with their wide range of screening tests. These include:

  • Blood Pressure (BP) Test
  • Cholesterol Testing and Consultation
  • Lipogram Blood Test (to determine different types of cholesterol)
  • Clicks Full Basic Screening (BP, Body Mass Index or BMI, meal guide and exercise plan)
  • Clicks Screening Measurements only (BP and BMI)
  • Clicks Comprehensive Screening (BP, BMI, Glucose and Cholesterol screening, plus meal and exercise plan)

To make an appointment at a Clicks Clinic, call 0860 254 257 or visit Clicks Clinics online

IMAGE CREDIT: 123rf.com



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Read More: Heart Disease Super Section