What are the staple foods of the Mediterranean diet?

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Colors and variety, more plants, fewer animals, and nothing ultra-transformed are the main lines of the Mediterranean diet – or Cretan diet. Here is, in detail, how to benefit from its advantages for the bar and health daily.

The Mediterranean diet is today the benchmark healthy diet. This diet especially emphasizes cereal- legume associations and gives little room to meat. “It is very close to the official recommendations of the National Health Nutrition Program (PNNS),” underlines Florence Foucault, dietician.

Increased life expectancy, low rate of cardiovascular disease, lower cholesterol, fall in type 2 diabetes, its health benefits are numerous. “This diet is distinguished from others by the fact of consuming raw, local, and seasonal products, “explains the dietician.

Fruits and vegetables, a priority

Characteristic of this diet: daily consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. To be chosen raw or cooked, they can be added to all menus. 

Vegetables without restriction

“Crus and / or cooked, they must at every meal represent half the food consumed says Myriam Moussier, dietician-nutritionist. To benefit from a wide range of nutrients, we must vary the family (cruciferous root vegetables or leaves …) And the colors (red, green, orange…). “We prefer those in season, or we opt for plain frozen (zucchini, eggplant, green beans, peppers, etc.).

Fruit in moderate quantities

Rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, they have significant levels of sugars. We bite into 2 to 3 portions per day (the equivalent of a fist), fresh, whole, very ripe, and in season.

Whole grains and legumes

The Cretan diet gives pride of place to whole grains ( quinoa, bulgur, rice, pasta, etc.), much better for your health than refined grains: they are richer in fiber, group B and E vitamins, and minerals. And essential fatty acids. Thanks to their lower glycemic index, they also increase the blood sugar level (glycemia) less. We consume 100 to 150 g cooked for lunch and dinner. These whole grains are to be associated with each meal with legumes such as chickpeas and lentils

“Regarding bread, the ideal is to prefer those made with organic sourdough spelled flour , recommends Dr Avril, herbalist. Or, failing this, multi-grain or rye.” Instead of cereal, it is reserved for breakfast or meals (50 g, or 1/5 of a baguette).

Meat, egg, or fish … alternate protein sources

The Mediterranean diet does not forget about animal proteins. Meat is eaten in moderation: twice a week and, ideally, white flesh. Choose quality poultry. Rich in saturated fat and salt, cold meats should be avoided as much as possible.

Regarding fish, it is recommended to consume it twice a week. Ideally, choose a fat ( herring, salmon, sardine, etc.) and a lean (sea bass, pike, hake, sea bream, etc.). Better to alternate them to avoid the heavy metals contained in oily fish. What about cooking? Preferably, grill your fish or steam them. Eggs can be included with meals twice a week.

“With vegetables and cereals, we plan a portion of 100 to 120 g of protein of your choice: poultry or eggs (2 to 4 times per week), fish (2 times per week including 1 time of fatty fish), red meat (Once a week) or legumes (lentils, split peas, chickpeas, dried beans, etc.) cooked “, adds Myriam Moussier.

Dairy products, without excess

Dairy products should be part of the daily diet and be consumed twice a day. For example, you can choose a portion of cheese and fermented yogurt. We favor goat’s and sheep’s milk: yogurts, fermented dairy, fresh and dry cheeses (Tomme, etc.) …

Nuts and oilseeds for healthy snacks

We bite 30 g ( a small handful ) with a meal (on salads, in dishes, for dessert …) or as a snack of walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios …

Natural sugars rather than refined sugars

“While refined sugars are often absent from the Mediterranean diet, natural sugars are popular. This is the case, for example, with  honey  or agave syrup to mix with your yogurt,” explains Florence Foucault. It is possible to take a tablespoon per day or 10 grams. Agave syrup should be favored over sucrose because it has a lower glycemic index, resulting in minor glycemic variation.

Olive oil, the primary source of lipids

In the Cretan diet, olive oil is used daily, whether seasoning a salad or cooking vegetables. It is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (omega-9), which contribute to good cardiovascular health and antioxidant vitamin E.

“The star is olive oil, which can be consumed at breakfast, recommends the dietician. There is 1 tsp. tablespoons per meal, virgin and first cold pressing. “To benefit from a supply of omega-3 – it does not contain any -, it can be mixed with rapeseed or walnut oil, for seasonings.

Aromatic herbs and spices to avoid salt

There is no Mediterranean cuisine without herbs, spices, aromatics, garlic, or onion …! Not only do they provide flavor, color, and antioxidants and help reduce added salt. “We prefer cinnamon, cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, anise …” recommends Dr. Avril. So many tips to avoid excessively salting your food.

Moderately red wine

Moderate consumption of red wine (one glass per day) is traditionally associated with the Mediterranean diet. However, recent studies deny the benefits of consuming alcohol daily. A study, published on August 23, 2018, in the scientific journal The Lancet, was conducted by hundreds of researchers in 195 countries. The researchers found an increase in mortality from the first drink. Specifically, people aged 15 to 95 who drink a glass of alcohol a day increase their risk of developing pathology by 0.5%. And, at two drinks a day, 977 out of 100,000 people create a health problem. While wine is therefore not prohibited in the Mediterranean diet, its consumption should be limited.

The Mediterranean diet is not just about food. It is also a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity (walking, cycling, etc.).

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