Mediterranean Diet: Are the Benefits Worth the Buzz?

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One of the most dreaded words some of us come across that both carry a lot of weight and no weight: DIETING. I know…tell me about it.

For some of us it is the difference between a size 8 and a size 6, but for many, it can be the difference between being healthy or sick.

Moreover, with so many fad diets, expert-approved diets, and research that supports everything, how can you determine whether or not a certain diet is for you? In some cases, it is preference and others compatibility.

Do your allergies allow you to follow a certain food restrictive diet or can your body handle dietary constraints placed on it through certain programs and diet plans?

This can be difficult, time-consuming, and in some cases less healthy than your current diet, which is why we are turning our attention toward the Mediterranean diet.

At a glance, the boastful colors of beautiful produce cultivated from the region, acting as an important health pillar according to research and science that tags the region for having the most vigorous life expectancy.

This is probably the driving reason behind this particular diet’s name, but why is Med cuisine healthy. Before jumping right in let us figure out exactly what is a Mediterranean diet?

Determining What is a Mediterranean Diet?

Unlike traditional diets and fad weight loss approaches, the Mediterranean diet is comprised mainly of moderate amounts of cheese, eggs, fish, fruits, pasta, rice, olive oil, poultry, pulses, vegetables, and a variety of meats.

Feeling a little unimpressed by the ingredients of the Mediterranean diet? Were you expecting a secret herb or hidden extract that will help the weight magically melt away? Well, our life of pizza engorged movie-packed nights are taking their toll.

In complete opposition of our common diets concentrated with saturated fats (burgers, meats, pastries, pies, and pizzas), the Mediterranean diet promotes a healthy load of monounsaturated fats which are commonly found in plant oils, nuts, seeds, and oils in fish.

This unique combination stimulates an efficient balance of fats, leading to reduced inflammation surrounding the heart, improving overall heart health.

Exploring Health Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet?

Heart & Circulatory Benefits

For years, data has been piling in, defending the strong claims of the Mediterranean diet actually improving heart and circulatory health. This claim shares a correlation with the Mediterranean diet baseline of monounsaturated fats, commonly found in the fish oils, nuts, and olive oils from the diet.

Those who embark on a Mediterranean diet are trading in their beloved saturated fats. These are in our pastries and meat-based fats, providing large amounts of bad cholesterol (LDL).

The trade-off comes with a healthy alternative to saturated fats by using monounsaturated fats to help maintain consistent cholesterol levels. This swap in fats aid in the reduction of bad cholesterol in the body.

The significance of this change in fats and reduction in LDL cholesterol is because if there is too much cholesterol in the body, it can start to attach itself along arteries, causing them to eventually become blocks or have severely restrictive flow, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

According to a 4-year long study conducted by The New England Journal of Medicine that observed nearly 7,500 who were potential high-risk candidates for cardiovascular disease; those who implemented the foods from the Mediterranean diet had shown signs of reduced risks.

Digestive Health

Another interestingly wonderful benefit to the Mediterranean diet is the boosting encouragement to improve fruit and vegetable intake, leading to increased fiber.

Fiber is vital for healthy digestion and a rapid increase in fiber will slow down your gut leading to extreme discomfort. This is typically associated with a poor fiber diet.

Cognitive Function

While there is not enough supporting evidence that clears the air between consuming a Mediterranean diet and stimulated cognitive functioning.

However, Alzheimer's Disease associates the anti-inflammatory properties of the Mediterranean diet to reduce certain inflammation outbreaks in the brain that are linked and associated with dementia risk.

Weight Loss

One of the most struggling areas for Americans is weight, leading the world in obesity. There has been a lot of buzz surrounding weight loss effects of Med cuisine.

One of the hardest parts of dieting period is trading processed foods for healthy options from the Mediterranean diet food list like fruit, pulses, and vegetables (everything is in moderation) to aid weight loss.

Even when compared to low-fat diets, according to a 2008 study where 322 overweight/obese people discovered that the Mediterranean diet is more effective for weight loss, reducing symptoms of diabetes.

Inhibit/Control Type 2 Diabetes

For dieters, daily meal plans to lose weight are a great way to keep a tight regiment going and to stay on top of losing weight. I know this section is highlighting diabetes, but let’s call out one of the most common causes of the disease: OBESITY.

Following a well-balanced Med diet plan, Type 2 diabetes can be managed, controlled and even prevented under restriction of weight gain experienced from

Given that obesity stands as one of the most common causes of Type 2 Diabetes, following a well-balanced Mediterranean diet can help prevent the condition by stopping weight gain.

Weight control is not the only helpful benefit that Med cuisine has on Type 2 diabetes. A Mediterranean diet plan consisting of high fiber daily meal plans can also help regulate and stabilize blood sugars.

In newly developed cases, a Med diet plan can reduce or remove the necessity for pharmaceutical therapies and treatments.

10 Tip List to Stick with a Mediterranean diet:

Dieting can be tricky, but it honestly doesn’t have to be. A diet should not place extra strain on you or your body and the Mediterranean diet can easily be implemented into our daily lives for any of us who enjoy eating healthy with options.

From healthy quick breakfast options like fresh fruit and yogurt to filling raw whole grains like oats, rice, etc., eating Med cuisine is easier than you think and the benefits are at least worth giving it a good consideration. Here is our Top Ten “stick with it” Mediterranean Dieting tips:

  • Brilliantly Build Briskfully Bright Breakfast- Fruit and yogurt streamline mornings and provide you with the essentials.
  • Dining Out Half Portion Technique- When eating out, try dividing your meal in half and packaging one-half as leftovers.
  • Chopped veggies are to be loved not loathed- From celery to cucumbers, carrots, peppers and other cut vegetables, these make perfect dippers for ranch and hummus.
  • Supporting the Organic Community- Stock your house with locally grown produce when sensible, aiming for seasonal vegetables found at your local farmers’ market.
  • Energize your Day With a Palm of Seeds & Nuts- When given the option, veer from processed foods like chips & cookies. Instead, enjoy almonds, walnuts, pistachios and pumpkin seeds as alternatives.
  • Make Dessert Healthy Again- Often dessert is seen as a sugary piece of cake, cookie, or some equivalent crammed with refined sugars. Enjoy the natural sweetness of fruits. A sprinkle of brown sugar or honey drizzle can amplify your fruit bowl.
  • The goal is to EAT not CHOW- Do not eat and do other activities at the same time. Sounds odd, but eating in less stressful environments (away from emails, phone calls, social media, etc.) and in the company of family and friends allow for you to enjoy and savor each bite.
  • Build-up Your Bandwagon- No need to be the only one in the house making the change. Get the kids to help with prep to get them involved and to spend quality time away from life’s numerous distractions.
  • Avoiding Packaged Processed Foods- It is best to eat foods that are unprocessed or unrefined. From dinner foods to sweets, these simple cuts can be made with little effort.
  • Make Whole Grains Take Control- A backboned structure of the Mediterranean diet is the utilization of whole grains. From barley, bulgur, couscous, farro, millet, oats, rice, and polenta, minimally processed grains act as the building block for most meals found in the Mediterranean diet plan.

Final Thoughts on the Mediterranean Diet: 

Wrapping it back around, dieting is not for everyone and certain diets have a better effect on some than others. Do not be discouraged, we are all different and simply need to find what works for your body’s specific needs. While the Mediterranean diet is backed by science and studies, the best way to figure out what diet will work for you is to work with a professional nutritionist and do a little homework.

Heather Bauer

Heather Bauer is a nationally recognized nutrition expert, author, and entrepreneur.

She brings her fresh and inspiring approach to diet to prime time spots on Good Morning America, CNN, CBS, The Talk, Access Hollywood Live and The Tyra Banks Show. And she's featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and People Magazine. 

Heather is the author of two best-selling nutrition and diet books, The Wall Street Diet and Bread is the Devil, and has regular columns on The Huffington Post and USNews where she writes about the latest trends.

She is the founder of Bestowed, the leading product discovery platform for health-conscious consumers, and has an active nutrition counseling practice in NYC, which she founded in 2001.

Heather is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a New York State Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist (CDN). She graduated from The University of Wisconsin with honors and is a member of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and the New York State Dietetic Association (NYSDA).