THE MEDITER­RANEAN DIET

Australian Health Today - - Contents - By Lisa tas­sell

The Mediter­ranean diet is a way of life. It is not only about the food you eat but the way you eat, who you eat with and how you eat. It’s a life­style diet that many are start­ing to em­brace.

The main com­po­nents of the tra­di­tional Mediter­ranean diet are fresh and whole foods and is pur­ported to have health ben­e­fits that pro­mote a longer health­ier life. A large va­ri­ety of veg­eta­bles, fruits, olive oil, grains and fish are the fo­cus of each meal, with less of a fo­cus on red meats and dairy.

In mod­ern so­ci­ety we are of­ten guilty of not eat­ing enough veg­eta­bles. Hav­ing a good quan­tity of veg­eta­bles in our diet daily is essen­tial for good health. Not only are they de­li­cious and ver­sa­tile, they are jam packed full of vi­ta­mins and nu­tri­ents. The nat­u­ral fi­bre in veg­eta­bles helps us to feel full and helps to keep our sugar lev­els on an even keel. Not only that, but the fi­bre in fresh veg­eta­bles al­lows the di­ges­tion to work in har­mony as it is meant to.

We hear a lot about grains be­ing not so good for us. In the Mediter­ranean diet, whole­grains are an in­te­gral part of the meal. The key is that the grains are in their whole form and haven’t been re­fined or pro­cessed. There are many vi­ta­mins and min­er­als in whole­grains that aid in a bal­anced diet.

An­other key com­po­nent of the diet is good qual­ity fats. Th­ese fats are nat­u­ral fats from nuts and seeds, av­o­cado, olive oil, olives and omega 3 dense fish such as sar­dines and salmon to name a few. Qual­ity fats are fan­tas­tic for the me­tab­o­lism and keep our heart and brain healthy, re­duc­ing in­flam­ma­tion within our body. Red meat is kept to a min­i­mum, whilst free range chicken is eaten in mod­er­a­tion.

With main meals, a glass of red wine is en­cour­aged

as it is rich in an­tiox­i­dants and full of resver­a­trol, of­ten called the anti-age­ing in­gre­di­ent. Every­thing in mod­er­a­tion and qual­ity is very im­por­tant in the Mediter­ranean diet. This in­cludes not only the al­co­hol but also the food.

Apart from the di­etary com­po­nent, the life­style is also im­por­tant when con­sid­er­ing the ben­e­fits of this diet. In coun­tries sur­round­ing the Mediter­ranean

Sea, food is pre­pared with fam­ily and friends, meals are served in a re­laxed at­mos­phere, never rushed and ac­com­pa­nied with laugh­ter and love. It is not un­com­mon for fam­i­lies to sit around the ta­ble slowly eat­ing, laid-back and happy to take their time, not rush­ing off to do some­thing or be some­where. From a health point of view, this eat­ing plan is a holis­tic way of liv­ing, full of nur­tur­ing for both the body and the soul.

Not only does the food eaten help to lower blood pres­sure, choles­terol, bal­ance blood sug­ars, im­prove di­ges­tion, and en­hance a healthy heart and brain, it also al­lows for care­free en­joy­ment of meals in the com­pany of fam­ily and friends. The prepa­ra­tion of the food and the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is just as im­por­tant as the food con­sumed. Many Aus­tralians lack the time and ef­fort to en­joy this way of eat­ing. The bond­ing and shar­ing of this life­style can­not be un­der­es­ti­mated as be­ing good for the body, spirit and gen­eral well­be­ing.

If you would like to feel that you are on hol­i­day in the Mediter­ranean on a daily ba­sis, then this eat­ing plan may be for you.

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