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Monday, June 12, 2017

What is the Mediterranean Diet and should we follow it?

Can we even count how many diets exist today? How well do they work? When it comes to the word 'diet', it just sends such a negative message to people! It sounds so restrictive and frankly, a restrictive diet may be necessary for some that are in medical need of it, but what about those people that are relatively healthy, and just merely want to lose a few pounds? Generally speaking, the Mediterranean diet is one of the most sensible-sounding diets out there right now, and its recommended for people in order to minimize their chances of getting heart disease, cancer, depression and even dementia.

On another note, have you heard of the Blue Zones? The Blue Zones are based on 5 geographical regions in the world where people generally live to 100+ years...healthfully. The Blue Zones follow a sensible diet -- such as the Mediterranean diet -- along with other common denominators that consist of moving naturally, having a purpose in life, minimizing stress, following an 80% rule by eating deliberately and slowing down as to not overeat, eating mostly plant-based foods, drinking alcohol moderately, participating in a faith-based community, putting family first and keeping a strong social supportive group as one's 'tribe' of people. 

Now, going back to the Mediterranean diet and how the Blue Zones sets the tone for leading a healthy life, why not eat a variety of foods that include a multitude of fruits and vegetables. Think of the spectrum of the colors of the rainbow and apply those colors to the endless amounts of fruits and vegetables that include those foods. 

Imagine matching the order of 'rainbow colors' to those of a variety of fruits and vegetables. Here is an idea of what I mean:
  • The first color of the rainbow, Red, best represents nutritious and natural antioxidants that occur in our foods such as red wine and red grapes for Resveratrol; chile peppers for Capsaicin; and tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit and bellpeppers for Lycopene
  • The second color, Orange, best represents the natural antioxidants in the following foods such as Curcumin found in curry; papaya and tangerines that contain Beta-Cryptoxanthin which are important for our vision, bone and cell growth; sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash and cantaloupe that contain Alpha-Carotene and lastly, citrus which contains the antioxidants Hesperidin and Naringenin.
  • Our third color, Yellow, best represents Bromelain which is found in pineapple; Limonoids found in citrus and lastly, Lutein and Zeaxanthin found in foods like corn, leafy greens, and mango. 
  • The color Green which follows next in the rainbow spectrum of colors best represents Chlorophyll found in foods like watercress, leeks, arugula and parsely; Apigenin and Luteolin, two natural and healthful compounds found in foods like celery and parsley; Catechins found in green tea and lastly, Isothiocyanates found in Kale, brussels sprouts and broccoli. 
  • The fifth (Blue), sixth (Indigo) and seventh (Violet) colors would fall into the category of the Purples contain Indoles, Ellagic Acid and Anthocyanins which are best represented by such foods as purple cauliflower, purple cabbage, a variety of berries, red cabbage, eggplant and grapes. 
Other food categories that fall under the Mediterranean diet include:
  • Eating a majority of plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes'
  • Exchanging butter with healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil;
  • Flavoring foods with herbs and spices rather than salt; 
  • Restraining from eating red meat to a few times a month;
  • Eating fish and poultry a minimum of two times a week;
  • Enjoying meals with family and friends where foods are eaten more deliberately instead of in a rushed state;
  • Drinking a moderate amount of red wine and lastly, getting plenty of exercise.
There is no doubt that there are many overlapping similarities when it comes to following the Mediterranean diet and attaining the many of the health-benefits that can be found in the Blue Zones. 
So why not try it out, the worse thing that can happen is living a healthier life -- isn't that incentive enough?

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