Mediterranean Diet 101: Everything You Need to Know

For the last few weeks, we’ve been covering the ins and outs of popular diets so you can make the best choice for your health journey. There’s the keto dietplant-based/vegan diets (and how to avoid becoming a junk food vegan), and the Dr. Sebi diet


To close things out for now, we’re discussing the Mediterranean diet, which has been heavily researched over the span of decades. The Mediterranean diet has been associated with increased immunity, reduced risk of obesityincreased lifespan, and reduced chronic illness


Interestingly, a major study found that mortality was reduced by 50% in 70 to 90-year-olds that followed the Mediterranean diet, which is especially important to note in our current times with COVID-19. The most protective diet during this time of immunity just might be the Mediterranean Diet. 


What makes the Mediterranean diet so healing? The staples of the diet – fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and spices – all have powerful health effects. 

This diet gets its inspiration from traditional diets commonly eaten in countries like Greece and Italy. Think of the word “Mediterranean” and imagine a sun-drenched scene overlooking orchards or the vast ocean, and a table full of seasoned olives, fresh-caught fish, succulent fruits, and a vibrant salad. Historically, people from this region were much healthier than the average American and also benefited from lower risks of common lifestyle diseases.


Of course, the Mediterranean is a region that consists of several countries, so there's no single best way to follow the diet. The Mediterranean diet is more like a lifestyle as opposed to a strict regimen. 


However, there is still a basic dietary pattern you can follow to benefit from the Mediterranean diet and live a healthier lifestyle. Let’s take a closer look!


What Is the Mediterranean Diet?


The traditional Mediterranean diet features mostly fresh produce, legumes, and whole grains, as well as a portion of fish and healthy fats. Here's a breakdown of the Mediterranean diet's general guidelines:


  • Make sure to fill your meals with a variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
  • Frequently include healthy fats like seeds, nuts, and olive oil.
  • The diet calls for a moderate amount of fish and dairy.
  • Red and white meat can be eaten, but very rarely.
  • Eggs can be eaten in moderation.
  • Dieters can also have red wine in moderation.

You may have noticed that this diet contains a relatively high percentage of calories from fat. Though over half of the fats in this diet are monounsaturated, the American Heart Association notes that anyone who needs to limit their fat intake may want to avoid the Mediterranean diet.


Creating a Meal Plan


Though the Mediterranean diet isn't a true plant-based diet, it does have a general focus on plant foods. A typical meal for this diet might consist of veggies, legumes, whole grains - and that's it!


Mediterranean diet practitioners will often pair these foods with healthful fats like olive oil and a range of great spices. Some meals will also feature smaller portions of fish, eggs, or meat.


To top off a meal, moderate amounts of red wine are common. However, anyone trying the Mediterranean diet will mostly drink water or sparkling water.


Coffee and tea are also quite acceptable options while on the Mediterranean diet. Just be careful when it comes to adding sugar or cream.


We’ve spoken about what types of foods encompass the Mediterranean diet, but what are foods you’ll have to avoid? If you want to stick to the diet, you'll avoid all of these:


  • Trans Fats: These are commonly found processed foods as well as margarine.
  • Added Sugar: These may be obvious, but candy, pop/soda, ice cream, and many other food items contain added sugar.
  • Refined Grains: You must avoid white bread and any pasta made with refined wheat.
  • Processed Meat: This means deli meats, hot dogs, processed sausages, and more.
  • Refined Oils: Canola oil is a big one, but you should also avoid soybean oil, cottonseed oil, and any others.
  • Other Processed Foods: Any highly-processed foods should be avoided. These might be labeled "low-fat" or have the word "diet" on the packaging, but you can tell they've been made in a factory.

Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet


It goes without saying that any diet isn't complete without at least occasional physical activity, but the Mediterranean diet itself has a wide range of health benefits. When you give your body whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, you're reducing your risk of a variety of physical and mental health issues.

1. Stay Agile

As you age, the concerns of muscle weakness and frailty increase exponentially. Thankfully, the nutrients you'll take in while practicing the Mediterranean diet are likely to reduce muscle weakness and keep you agile.

2. Prevent Strokes and Heart Disease

Since a Mediterranean diet restricts your intake of red meat, processed foods, and refined breads, another benefit is lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke. Additionally, a focus on drinking red wine instead of hard liquor can further benefit this prevention.

3. Cut Risk of Alzheimer’s

A Mediterranean diet is great for lowering blood sugar levels, improving cholesterol, and increasing blood vessel health. All of these factors contribute to a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

4. Reduce Risk of Parkinson's

A Mediterranean diet is rich with antioxidants, which is great for cells. Antioxidants can prevent cells from oxidative stress, which can be quite damaging. If you follow this diet long enough, you may actually cut your risk of Parkinson's disease in half.

5. Protect Against Diabetes

Over a long period of time, a poor diet can lead to type 2 diabetes. Thankfully, starting on the Mediterranean diet will increase fiber intake. Since fiber digests slowly, you'll experience a more steady blood sugar and you can better maintain a healthy weight - both of which will reduce your risk of diabetes.


In addition to all of these benefits, the Mediterranean diet also increases the longevity of committed dieters. Perhaps this is obvious since it reduces the risk of a number of diseases and ailments, but it's still worth mentioning.


Making the Change


Starting - and sticking to - any diet can be a difficult undertaking. Cravings are often the biggest reason for losing a diet. The Mediterranean diet is a great diet that focuses on healthful, nutritious foods, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have cravings. 


Your best bet is to try to stop cravings before they start.


That’s why SMART Pressed Juice has introduced the Cut Cravings Bundle. This bundle is perfect for helping you stay on track with your diet, even on the most difficult days. Mix this bundle into some nut milk or a favorite smoothie, and you'll be surprised at your willpower!


This bundle contains Vegan Vanilla Proteini, which is packed with organic plant-based protein to keep you fuller longer, and Pineapple Chia Cleanse, which is full of activated fiber to keep your digestion in check.


Studies show that protein and fiber are the top nutrients for weight loss management, so the Cut Cravings Bundle is the perfect pairing if you're starting on the Mediterranean diet.


For more SMART lifestyle tips like this, visit http://www.smartpressedjuice.com and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, or like us on Facebook. You can also visit our Amazon store to stock up on our delicious juices.