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The Mediterranean Diet: Dietitian Review

 

The Mediterranean Diet: Dietitian Review

The Mediterranean Diet

As we continue our reviews of popular diets (see our reviews of the Ketogenic Diet, Low FODMAP, Whole30 and others), the Mediterranean Diet is one we are excited to weigh in on. It’s one of the most well-researched eating plans that exist–– we’re talking over 50 years of extensive research. It was also chosen as 2018’s Best Overall Diet and “Easiest Diet to follow” by US News and Report. Here are the facts about the Mediterranean Diet (aka The Med Diet), pros and cons, and our recommendation of this eating plan.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet is based on a pattern of eating and specific lifestyle observed in people living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It arose out of researchers observing that these populations lived and ate a certain way and had much lower incidences of chronic diseases.

It’s not a traditional diet plan where you follow a prescribed meal plan or strict set of diet rules. In fact, it’s more about your pattern of eating and wellness practices (like movement and personal connections!) than specific foods and nutrients.

At its core, the Mediterranean Diet is all about cooking and eating simple, minimally-processed foods, moving your body in a way that pleases you, enjoying meals with others, and drinking in moderation if you choose to. From a food standpoint, the Mediterranean diet is a plant-forward eating style that emphasizes whole grains, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats like olives/olive oil, fish, and beans/legumes.

The Pros
  • There’s very clear and strong evidence that a Mediterranean style of eating can lower risk for coronary heart disease and diabetes.
  • There’s pretty good evidence that the Mediterranean Diet lowers stroke risk and perhaps cognitive decline, and other vascular conditions. There’s growing evidence linking the Mediterranean Diet to weight control.
  • When you dive deep into its roots, this plan also values other aspects of wellness such as personal connection, movement, and stress management.
  • This Mediterranean style of eating to prevent chronic diseases is supported by most, if not all, major scientific organizations.
The Cons
  • There are not many, but one potential challenge to the Mediterranean Diet can be how loosely structured it is. It leaves lots of room for flexibility, which can be a great thing, but can also feel overwhelming if you don’t know where to start or feel that you need more guidance on planning your meals. Fortunately, those who feel they need more guidance on planning can refer to one of the main resources available including the Oldways website and numerous cookbooks available (see below for two of our recommendations). You can also contact a registered dietitian (like us!) to help you implement these eating, cooking, and lifestyle strategies into your wellness routine.
Tips for following a Mediterranean Diet

So, what does following the Mediterranean Diet look like in practice? We’ve outlined some quick tips below for how to start incorporating this eating style into your lifestyle.

  • Choose mostly whole, minimally-processed grains. These include whole wheat (like farro and wheat berries), brown and wild rice, quinoa, oats, barley, and sorghum.
  • Eat seafood 2x per week. Choose a variety of types of seafood and enjoy it in portions of 3-5 ounces per serving.
  • Incorporate more veggies into each meal.
  • Incorporate plant-based proteins like beans, legumes, and tofu into regular meals. Try substituting beans or lentils for your regular meat / poultry option in mixed dishes like pastas, chilis/stews, and sauces.
  • Enjoy fruit as the main star of desserts often: For instance, pair fresh or dried fruit with a bit of dark chocolate for a sweet treat.
  • Choose healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados.
  • Eat smaller portions of high-quality meats: Instead of making meat the star of the plate, eat it in smaller portions (about 3 ounces) surrounded by whole grains and vegetables as the base of your meal.

For even more details on following this plan, we highly recommend visiting the Oldways website, specifically their Mediterranean Diet Pyramid and their eating plans and menus. For delicious and practical recipes we also love The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook and/or Mediterranean Diet Cookbook For Dummies.

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A note from our CEO about COVID-19x
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The coronavirus has changed life, as we knew it, forever. Most people will be touched in some way by the pandemic either physically, emotionally or financially. We’ve all heard heart-breaking stories from around the world about lives that have been lost and severe financial hardships caused by the sudden shutdown of so many businesses.

On behalf of all our team members around the globe, we extend our deepest sympathies to all that are struggling through personal challenges, whatever they may be, and we offer our sincerest gratitude to all the heroes who are helping those in need.

We’d also like to add how important it is for everyone to continue to do their part to slow the spread. Physical distancing is critical, and we must all take this seriously. We use the word “physical” because staying away from people in a physical way does not mean we should be neglecting the importance of social interactions, compassion and patience.

We are one of the largest providers of shelf-stable seafood and it is our honor and our responsibility to do our part, in every way we can, to help to keep people fed with affordable, nutritious protein. To that end, we’re continuing to run our factories in the US and Canada while our partners around the world continue to provide supply.

We take great pride in being a “people-first” company, so our decision to continue operations is done with utmost concern for the people making it possible. We’ve enhanced our safety measures to meet or exceed CDC guidelines and we have increased wages in our factories to assist employees dealing with the incremental costs of working and new, unexpected demands on their households.

We also take great pride in producing healthy, nutritious and safe products for our customers. Please know the manufacturing practices we follow year-round protect our both employees and the products they produce. Our facilities have very few people-to-product interactions, all products are sterilized in a high temperature oven and then packaged in highly automated production lines.

Beyond Bumble Bee, we’re continually looking for ways to extend our “people first” approach to make a meaningful impact. With so many people in need, we know this effort is more important than ever. We’re starting by donating more than $1 million in product to food banks in both the US and in Canada. And we will be looking for more opportunities to make a positive difference in the days to come.

Finally, I want to thank you, our loyal and new customers, for your support. We hope you find the recipes on our website helpful and easy to prepare. I also want to send a sincere thank you to our Bumble Bee Team and our valued supply partners around the world for their tireless efforts, particularly those working in sales, manufacturing, distribution and all our support roles, ensuring we can keep store and pantry shelves stocked.

Please continue to do your part to keep yourselves and your families safe during this truly unprecedented time.

With Gratitude,
Jan
CEO, Bumble Bee Seafoods