Mediterranean diet: healthy or harmful diet?

What is the Mediterranean diet? What are its rules? Is it beneficial or harmful to health? The most important information you will find in the following article.

Let's get acquainted with the following on the Mediterranean diet, and some important information about it:

What is the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet is a diet based on adopting the healthy eating habits of the people of the Mediterranean region in their traditional diet.

It focuses on the foods that the residents of this region frequently eat, such as: vegetables, legumes, fish, and olive oil, in return for reducing the intake of certain types of foods, such as: meat and sweets.

It is believed that the healthy diet followed by the inhabitants of the Mediterranean countries, such as: Greece and Spain, is the secret to their long life expectancy, and the low prevalence of some chronic diseases for them, especially with the richness of this diet in sources of fiber and healthy fats that may be beneficial to the health of the people. The heart in particular and the body in general.

The Mediterranean diet is not considered a low-calorie diet, but rather a high-calorie diet, and healthy fats are a source of 35-40% of the calories that the body derives from the foods eaten while following the Mediterranean diet.

Because the Mediterranean diet is rich in fat, this type of diet may not be suitable for some groups, especially those who want to reduce the amount of fat in their food.

What is allowed and forbidden in the Mediterranean diet?

While following this diet, it is advised to focus on eating certain food items, and to avoid or limit others as much as possible, as follows:

1. Allowed foods

It is recommended to focus on the following food items within the Mediterranean diet:

  • Various vegetables and fruits.
  • Whole grains, such as: oats, barley, and wheat, and food products made from them, such as: pasta and bread.
  • Various fish and seafood, such as: cod, crabs, and mussels.
  • Legumes, such as: lentils, chickpeas, peas, and beans.
  • Nuts and seeds, such as: almonds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds.
  • Sources of monounsaturated fats, such as: olive oil, avocado.
  • White meat, such as: chicken and turkey.

Olive oil is also the main source of fat used in cooking meals that are eaten within the Mediterranean diet. Usually, food is seasoned with simple methods and ingredients instead of sauces and broths.

2. Foods that should be eaten in small quantities only

While following the Mediterranean diet, it is preferable to reduce the consumption of the following foods and drinks as much as possible or even avoid some of them completely, such as:

  • Milk and dairy products, especially full-fat products, such as: cheese, milk, yoghurt, and cream.
  • Potatoes, especially potatoes that have not been prepared in healthy cooking methods.
  • Red meat and processed meat, such as: beef, lamb, and sausage.
  • Other foods and drinks, such as: wine, sweets, eggs, and butter.

Mediterranean diet benefits

This type of diet may have many potential benefits, such as:

  • Improving the health of the heart and blood vessels, and reducing the chances of developing various diseases and problems of the circulatory system, such as: heart attacks and high blood pressure.
  • Improving sleep quality, especially when elderly people follow this diet.
  • Losing excess weight, as one scientific review showed that following this diet helped to lose weight in a group of obese people more effectively than some low-fat diets.
  • Reducing the chances of developing some chronic diseases, such as: type 2 diabetes, obesity, some types of cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.
  • Maintain muscle health for longer.

Mediterranean diet side effects

This type of diet may have some potential harms, such as:

  • Gaining extra weight: especially because the Mediterranean diet is rich in various sources of fat, such as: olive oil and nuts.
  • Low levels of calcium in the body: Followers of this type of diet are advised to reduce the intake of milk and dairy products rich in calcium.
  • Low levels of iron in the body: Therefore, followers of this diet are advised not to neglect the sources of iron and sources of vitamin C in their diet.

Is the Mediterranean diet healthy?

The Mediterranean diet is one of the best-known diets around the world, especially since the foods and drinks that are recommended to be consumed while following it adhere to the American Heart Association’s standards for a healthy diet, through the following:

  • Focus on healthy food items, such as: legumes, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, poultry, vegetable oils, and fish.
  • Limit some unhealthy food items, such as: foods high in added sugars or sodium, processed foods, processed meats high in fat, and sources of refined carbohydrates.

A person can also get the most out of this type of diet if they try to reduce the amount of calories they consume each day.

But like any other diet, it is preferable to consult a doctor first, as as we mentioned earlier, this diet may not be suitable for everyone.

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