Around 1960, it was noticed that the Greek people that were living on islands such as Crete, and people from southern Italy had fewer chronic issues and were living longer compared to other parts of the world.
This phenomenon caught the attention of scientists and dieticians, and they decided to research it. They discovered that these Mediterranean countries had similar lifestyles of food consumption (fresh & healthy) and exercise.
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This led to the formation of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, thanks to the research by Oldways.
Mediterranean Food Pyramid Breakdown
As you can see with the base of the pyramid, it recommends being physically active (at least 30 mins a day) and suggests enjoying meals with others. But why does it suggest that?
The reason being, it helps us eat less. In the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries, eating is not something you do in a hurry. It is an event that is shared with family, friends, and loved ones. For instance, while having lunch, you take your time to talk with others, making meals last anywhere between 2-3 hours.
This creates a delay between the time you eat and your brain registers that you are full. By talking with others and eating slowly, you not only enjoy the moment but also eat less, or eat just the right amount.
This is the secret weapon to not being overweight - eating slowly and stopping as soon as you know you’re full.
What To Eat When Living The Mediterranean Lifestyle?
Now moving to the second area of the pyramid. To have a Mediterranean lifestyle, your diet needs to have a good portion of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, and bread. Keep in mind that the food should be processed. There is no exception to this as processed food is not healthy for you.
Now, what types of fruits and vegetables should you consume? The answer is simple - eat whatever is in season. The reason being, the food will be cheaper since it will be in stock, and eating in-season food is known to improve its health benefits.
You will also notice that Mediterranean food is usually prepared with a generous amount of olive oil and people from these regions usually get their healthy omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids from this source. Olive oil also has antioxidant and strong anti-inflammatory properties and is extremely good for protecting against heart diseases.
So, next time, while preparing food, feel free to add olive oil on everything - of course, in moderation.
Seafood, Dairy & Poultry
Compared to other sections, the seafood section must be your go-to as well. For an overall healthy lifestyle, adding fish to your diet is important.
While there are different types of fish to select from, you can opt for whatever it is that you like. Whether it's salmon, halibut, or even shellfish, know what works best for you. You need not consume fish every day, eating it a few times a week is more than enough.
Moving upwards in the pyramid, eggs, yogurt, and lean meats like chicken are eaten a few times a week in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions. Yogurts and cheese are almost consumed daily. You too can consume yogurt with honey and it can serve as a good alternative for desserts.
The top section of the pyramid consists of red meats and sweets. You might be wondering why meat and sweets are mixed together. The reason being, both need to be consumed in moderation to lead a healthy lifestyle. Many Mediterranean foods do consist of red meats, however, it is best to limit eating meats to only 2-3 times a month. The same goes for sweets as well. This doesn’t mean that people from Mediterranean regions follow this rule closely, but that is where most of the health benefits of the Mediterranean lifestyle come from.
What are the Mediterranean Diet Benefits?
The New England Journal of Medicine published a report in 2013 that was the result of a research team that followed two groups of people: one group was following the Mediterranean diet and another group following the ever-popular, “low-fat diet.”
According to a study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine, people following a Mediterranean lifestyle had 30% fewer heart issues compared to those following a low-fat diet. The research concluded that - a Mediterranean diet with nuts and extra-virgin olive oil mitigated the incidence of cardiovascular issues.
The American Diabetes Association Journal published a report stating that the Mediterranean diet can reduce the chances of stroke risk and even reverse the generic risks for stroke. Also, an analysis of 1.5 million healthy adults showed that a Mediterranean diet has the potential to lower deaths related to heart disease and cancer.
As you can see, having a Mediterranean eating lifestyle offers some great advantages and health benefits. We hope you have enjoyed reading through this blog and are inspired to implement a Mediterranean lifestyle.
Did you know that Mediterranean and Middle Eastern lifestyles are almost the same and their recipes share common ingredients? In fact, the term “Mediterranean food” is often used as an umbrella to describe both, and you will gain similar health benefits with a Middle Eastern diet as you would with Mediterranean food.
If you are eager to try out some authentic Middle Eastern food, then drop by or order from Toum - an authentic Middle Eastern restaurant known for housing some of the most delectable and traditional dishes. At Toum, we have carefully handpicked some of the most unique dishes from various Middle Eastern regions and added them to our menu.
What’s more, our dishes are prepared, keeping sanitation, our customer’s health, and taste buds in mind. Contact us and book your table today to relish some quality and flavorsome Middle Eastern food!