Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean Diet

Want to lose weight? Experts agree: this is the best diet for 2019…

If you’re hoping to lose weight this year, there’s one diet that yields the best results, according to a new ranking. The Mediterranean diet scored the most points for being effective, safe and easy to follow.

Studies found the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, dementia, memory loss, depression and breast cancer. Food from the Mediterranean regions have also been linked to a healthier heart, stronger bones and longevity. Oh, and weight loss, of course!

What is a Mediterranean style diet?

It features foods eaten in Greece, Spain, southern Italy and France, and other countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.  Although not everyone agrees on the exact detail of the diet, it is an eating style based on large amounts of fruits and vegetables, legumes such as beans, lentils and peas, whole grains and especially olive oil. Fish and seafood are included often. Chicken, eggs and small amounts of dairy, such as cheese and yoghurt, are included in moderation, but red meat and sweets are rarely be consumed. The diet includes a small amount of wine with meals, typically one serving per day for females and up to 2 per day for males. Food is cooked from scratch and contain no preservatives or processed foods. The recommended foods are rich with monounsaturated fats, fibre, and omega-3 fatty acids. Healthy oils make up 35 to 40% of the total daily energy intake.

How can you make the Mediterranean diet part of your eating plan?

There are some simple things you can do to eat more of the healthy foods that make up the Mediterranean diet:

  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables each day
  • Eat a variety of whole-grain foods each day, such as oats, brown rice, and whole wheat bread, high fibre pasta, and whole wheat couscous.
  • Choose healthy (unsaturated) fats, such as nuts, olive oil and certain nut or seed oils like canola, soybean, and flaxseed. Add avocado to meals instead of bacon or add flaxseeds to cereals.
  • Limit saturated fats, such as butter, palm oil, and coconut oil. And limit fats found in animal products, such as meat and dairy products made with whole milk.
  • Eat vegetarian meals often that include whole grains, beans, lentils, and vegetables.
  • Eat fatty fish at least twice a week e.g. tuna, salmon, mackerel, trout, herring or sardines.
  • Eat moderate amounts of low-fat dairy products, such as milk, cheese, or yogurt.
  • Eat moderate amounts of poultry and eggs.
  • Limit red meat to only a few times a month in small amounts. For example, a serving of meat is 90 grams This is about the size of a deck of cards.
  • Limit sweets and desserts to only a few times a month. This includes sugar-sweetened drinks like soda.

Stay active

The Mediterranean diet isn't just about eating healthy foods. It's also about being active. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week.

Choose exercises that make your heart beat faster and make you breathe a bit harder. For example, go for a swim or a brisk walk or bike ride. You can also get some aerobic activity in your daily routine. Vacuuming, housework and gardening can all be aerobic.

Claudine Ryan, Registered Dietitian, RD (SA)

Written by : Claudine Ryan, Registered Dietitian, RD (SA)

Claudine Ryan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics and is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. Claudine is passionate about people and their health, and enjoys helping others to optimise their health and manage their chronic lifestyle related diseases through sound nutritional therapy and practical advice.