Mediterranean Diet Plan & Food Pyramid
Written by Sky Taylor, Diet Bites
Information on the Mediterranean Diet, Including a picture of their Food Pyramid
How does the Mediterranean Diet compare to that of the American Food Pyramid Diet? Unfortunately, nothing is set in stone in this comparison.
Mediterranean Diet: Lower Heart Attack Risk, Increased Stroke Risk
While the Mediterranean Diet has shown to reduce the incident of heart disease - it comes at the price of more than double the incident of stroke in comparison to the American Food Pyramid Diet.
While we have more incident of heart disease, they have twice the rate of strokes. Simply put, one must 'pick their poison'.
Both are considered healthy plans for daily living when combined with a moderate dose of exercise, the restriction of alcohol-based beverages and adequate water intake for hydration needs.
Both should be balanced with relaxation and hobbies or interests that make life more pleasant.
The controversy exists on the foods within the Mediterranean Diet that combat heart disease.
Is it their preferred use of olive oil? Could low rate of heart disease be connected with wine?
The diet is found lacking in both calcium and iron in comparison to the USA Food Pyramid - so could that be the connection?
Or could this diet's super-heart power exist within the mix of healthy vegetables containing photochemicals that are threaded throughout its daily menus?
What about the daily use of herbs and garlic - all of which are known to hold super health powers?
Studies continue which will provide the health community with more insight and hopefully keys to fighting heart disease, stroke and many other diseases and illness.
These keys will most-definitely impact longevity and the overall quality of life.
Let's review a picture created by Diet Bites of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.
Picture of The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid
Health Factors of the Mediterranean Diet
This diet encompasses a vast region of people with diverse living conditions. While we are focusing much of this article based on the Greek diet - one of our longest-lived societies, the diet is also that of Israel, Spain, France, Syria, Portugal, Italy as well as other pockets of this region.
1. The daily diet is high in monounsaturated fats while low in saturated and Trans fat. Saturated and Trans fats are associated with an increase in risk for heart disease.
2. The daily diet limits animal proteins and places the focus on rich sources of vegetable and plant sources for protein.
3. The Mediterranean Diet limits the use of alcohol which is associated with a number of health ills, from and increased risk for certain forms of cancer to an alcohol addiction. Wine is generally the preferred beverage where spirits are concerned, and it is consumed in limited amounts.
4. This daily diet pyramid is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains which also includes bread, a main staple of the diet.
5. Milk consumption is limited, unlike the American Food Pyramid recommendation. Most Greeks use milk as a coffee lightener rather than as a beverage served with meals. When it comes to calcium sources, they much prefer cheeses and yogurt.
As a side health note, Greeks and other individuals of this region tend to be more prone to lactose intolerance and avoiding milk and embracing yogurt with its probiotic health benefits is a good way to lessen the effects of this condition.
6. About 40% of daily calories are derived from fat - chiefly from olives and their precious oil. Less than 10% of total calories are in the form of saturated fat. As to olive oil, be sure to look for the cold-press varieties and only purchase the best: extra virgin olive oil.
There exists some controversy where olive oil production is involved as to the purity of the oil. Italians are very guarded and strive to protect their integrity as they are well-known and respected for producing the finest when it comes to olive oil.
Because some manufacturers in different regions of the world are plying olive oil with other oils to stretch the volume, it places this precious commodity in jeopardy as to ethics and authenticity of product.
Given such, be sure you are familiar with your olive oil producer when purchasing to guarantee that you are indeed buying the real deal.
At times other oils will be used in the diet of the Mediterranean that are rich in monounsaturated fats such as canola and peanut oil. Both are excellent sources of cooking oil. Peanut oil is a 'smokeless' oil and adds a very unique flavor to foods, much like olive oil.
7. The Mediterranean Diet is rich in photochemicals, vital nutrients - minerals and vitamins, and places a big focus on olive oil, garlic, root and upper ground vegetables and herbs.
It is also mined with healthy beans which come with their own health benefits.
They can lower bad blood cholesterol levels and can be key in controlling and managing diabetes. They are also stars in fighting some forms of cancer - as is olive oil.
8. Red meat - as well as all animal proteins are minimal. It's interesting to know that back in the 1970's while the Food Pyramid of the United States recommended 3-4 ounces of steak for about 170 calories per serving, individuals were enjoying 8 to 12 ounce steak for about 800 calories.
As we entered the 2000 era, individuals had increased that serving size to 1 pound to over 24 ounces for more than 1,300 calories. It's no surprise that heart disease in rampant in these United States.
If you are seeking a healthier daily diet, consider extracting some of the key advantages of the Mediterranean Diet. Here are our top likes about this way of living:
1. Trade-out your current cooking oil for extra virgin, canola and peanut oil.
2. Aim to enjoy a serving of legumes or beans each and every day.
3. Limit animal proteins and opt for the heart-healthier vegetable and plant proteins.
4. Also restrict consumption of alcohol; your liver is precious and it only takes a drink or two per day to destroy it. Even beer has it's own set of unhealthy woes - such as gout disease.
5. Add plenty of herbs as well as garlic to your daily diet. And while you're at it, also add a healthy dose of exercise.
While the USA isn't ready to drop the Food Pyramid for the Mediterranean Pyramid, it goes to show that even our top health experts aren't 100% positive about the foods that we need in our daily diet for optimum health and longevity.
Perhaps taking the healthiest portions from both pyramids would do us well in achieving better health and a longer life span which has a higher quality.