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Taking a Glance at the Mediterranean Diet

By Stephen R. Farris

Did you know that more than 600,000 people die annually from heart disease? And that's in the Western Hemisphere alone. Staggering numbers indeed. Life expectancy in the United States has fallen drastically behind other countries, ranking No. 43, and most of the reason could be due to the foods we eat. Let's face it, we are simply not eating as healthy as we should be. 

Let's take a look at the Mediterranean diet. Nations such as France, Italy and Israel that follow a Mediterranean style diet seem to have a higher life expectancy rate. All rank in the top 10 percent according to the World Health Organization. So what's so special and different about the Mediterranean diet? Let's take a look.

The Mediterranean diet uses more healthy selections of food like fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, chicken, whole grains, while cooking meals with red wine and extra virgin olive oil. The diet avoids unhealthy fats. What follows is an example of the Mediterranean diet plan; as you can see, it's really no different than some of the other diet plans you may have tried, but there are a few you'll be glad they incorporated.

The Plan

  • Eating primarily plant-based foods - Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Healthy fats - Like extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, avocado oil, but cut out butter
  • No salt - Instead it uses fresh herbs and spices to add flavor
  • No red meat - Lean cuts of fresh chicken and fish instead
  • Red wine - No more than a glass per day (optional), plus used for cooking too
  • Family time - Eating your meals with family and/or friends is healthy
  • Exercise - Just like any diet, exercise is just as important

Foods to Avoid

  • Sugar - Like that from sodas, candy, ice cream, etc.
  • Refined Grains - White bread, pasta made with refined wheat
  • Trans fat - Like those found in processed foods and margarine
  • Processed meats - Hot dogs, luncheon meat, sausage, etc.
  • Processed foods - Basically anything canned or that looks like it was manufactured
  • Refined oils - Soybean, canola, cottonseed and many others

When you think of Mediterranean cooking, some of the dishes that come to mind are falafel, shakshuka, tabouli, gyros, or hummus. You may also think there's no way I can cook any of this stuff, all the ingredients are in foreign countries. Not so. All of the ingredients you will ever need are available at your local grocery store.

If your diet is working out for you, and you're getting the healthy benefits, then stick to it. If not, you might give this one a shot.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Midlothian, Va.

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