What we put in our bodies is one of the single most important factors in how our bodies function and feel, and can make a huge impact on our long-term health. Many studies have shown the long-term benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and fresh fruits and vegetables. For Mediterranean Diet Awareness Month, our own registered dietitian, Leah Silberman of Wellhaus health, explains how this diet can lead to a longer, healthier life.
1. What are the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet?
The MD is loaded with vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts, seeds, whole grains, healthy fats (especially those essential omega-3 fatty acids), and lean proteins. In a nutshell – no pun intended – this colorful diet gives us a ton of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that we need to keep us leaving long, healthful lives. This type of diet does not eliminate nutritious food groups, but rather emphasizes the foods we need to provide proper nutrition.
2. What vitamins and nutrients is the Mediterranean diet rich in?
You name it! Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K, and everything in between. It’s packed with minerals, micronutrients, antioxidants, fatty acids, and just about everything we need to meet our nutrition needs.
3. Can switching to a Mediterranean diet improve cardiovascular conditions like heart disease and hypertension?
There’s a good chance it will! Studies show that people who consume a MD diet have lower rates of chronic disease. Believe it or not, diet and lifestyle intervention can actually reverse the effects of many chronic diseases. Our western diets have taught us that processed foods and added sugars can be part of a healthy diet, but they’re often what makes us sick in the long run. Switching to a Mediterranean diet can absolutely help with improving many health conditions.
4. What foods/dishes are part of a Mediterranean diet?
Think salmon or white fish with fresh lemon and capers. Salads with cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions, and extra virgin olive oil. It’s a great idea to work in fresh fruits, nuts, and veggies whenever you get an opportunity. It can be as simple as adding a handful of spinach to a saute, or substituting berries or unsalted almonds for sugary snacks.
5. Which foods are excluded by the Mediterranean diet?
You should avoid anything processed. Unless you’re a true label detective (and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that), many of the packaged foods sitting in your pantry may be laden with added sugar, gums, artificial colors, and flavors that can wreak havoc on your body. The Mediterranean diet is all about whole, real, and natural foods. Intake of red meat and dairy products should also be relatively limited.
6. There is some speculation that a Mediterranean diet could be unhealthy – do you have anything to add to this?
At Well Haus, our approach to diet and nutrition is based on facts, science, and previous outcomes, all of which have overwhelmingly demonstrated positive health outcomes for people who consume a Mediterranean-style diet.
Leah Silberman, Medical Offices of Manhattan’s registered dietitian, is also a part of Well Haus health. Throughout the month of May, we will be sharing some of Leah’s favorite Mediterranean diet recipes on our Instagram page. Happy Mediterranean Diet Awareness Month!