The Mediterranean diet has been popularly known to be the healthiest diet in existence to date. It mainly consists of a large portion of vegetables, and fruits. Whole grains, protein and legumes, water and sometimes red wine. It has always also encouraged physical activities, stress reduction, and an overall healthy lifestyle change. The diet is commonly used by people from countries on the Mediterranean seas like Greece, Italy, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, etc. These Mediterranean’s, due to their healthy eating and living habits are exceptionally healthy compared to the average American and they also have a lower risk of chronic ailments.
Their diet consist of unprocessed food items as:
- Fruits: apples, banana, melon, oranges and, lemons, etc.
- Vegetables: spinach, kale, collard greens, broccoli, onions, tomatoes, cauliflower, Brussels, etc.
- Whole grains: oatmeal, brown rice, barley, corn, whole wheat, whole-grain bread and, pasta.
- Nuts: Peanuts, walnut almond, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, etc.
- Plant Proteins: lentils, chickpeas, legumes, beans, etc.
- Carbohydrate Tubers: Potatoes, yams, turnips, etc.
- Animal Protein (seafood): Fish, lean meat, poultry shrimp, lobsters, oysters, etc.
- Water as their choice of drink mostly. Red wine occasionally.
- Healthy fats: Olive and avocado oil
- Dairy: yogurt Greek, cheese, milk
- Spices/Herbs: basil, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, rosemary, mint, etc.
The below menu is for a Mediterranean middle-class family of 6 consisting of Father (55 years old), mother (49years old), 3 children of ages (a girl of 5 years of age, 2 boys of ages 8 and 10 respectively) and a grandfather of 80 years of age.
The above family is of a medium socioeconomic status and are very well educated and life experienced and so they maintain healthier food choices than lower statues families who because of lack of appropriate education and low income, tend to maintain unhealthier diets in form of higher carbohydrates and unhealthy fats, fewer proteins, fruits, and vegetables.
The above family is Jewish so their religion might have certain impacts on their choice of food items. Their religion encourages strictly healthy eating and living. Kosher foods might be imposed thereby placing restrictions on the consumption of pork, shellfish or any unclean meat like a snake, bat, scorpion, dog, rabbit, shark, tortoise, rat, horse, etc. (Only animals with split hooves and curd chews are allowed to be eaten). Consuming blood is forbidden so all raw meats must be soaked and rinsed out with water before cooking. They are also allowed some wine but not an excessive amount to discourage alcoholism. Fasting on specific holidays or religious days may sometimes impose food restrictions as well.
A Daily Menu Is as Follows
Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday
Breakfast 1 serving Frittata (Eggs, spinach, onions, cheese, pepper, salt) with avocado oil, apples 1serving Oatmeal, strawberries, raisins, apples 1 serving Muesli (Oat, yogurt, milk, dried fruits, almond) with apples Ricotta toast and mashed avocado spread, Yogurt, almonds, and an apple Omelet with spinach, tomatoes, onions + 2 pieces of bananas
Lunch 1 serving Green salad, hummus and pita bread + 1 banana 1 serving Wheat top bread, 3 tsp. tuna and vegetable Pattie sandwich 1 serving Chickpeas and Brussels sprouts with olive oil ½ baked chicken 1 serving chickpea quinoa bowl + tomatoes stewed mackerel fish 1 serving beans and brown rice, ½ broiled chicken.
Dinner 2 serving beans and ½ roasted fish with sprayed olive oil 1 serving Tomato salad, olives with feta cheese, olive oil dressing
1 serving Grilled chicken breast spread with avocado, slices of tomatoes and mozzarella cheese 1 serving linguine in garlic and basil mushroom sauce + 1 serving crab meat sauce 1 serving Tuna and avocado egg salad + Okra soup and fish 2 Eggs in tomatoes sauce, 1 cup kale and chickpeas + 1 serving wheat pasta.
Snacks (AM and PM) 1 Fruits cup of diced pineapples with raspberries) + 2 bananas, 1 small cup smoothie (Blueberries, spinach, apples, milk 1 orange + 2 mangoes and freshly squeezed Lemonade 1 Plum, 2 large carrots, and 2 tsp. hummus, 2 clementine’s + 1 cup milk 2 slices of Watermelon and 2 pieces of kiwi, 2 clementine’s 1 large cup smoothie (spinach, kale, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, almond milk).
Drink Water for kids and a glass of red wine for adult Water for kids and glass of red wine for adult Water Water Water. Total calories 1230 calories 1215 calories 1220 calories 1215 calories 1219 calories
The above menu displayed signifies a balanced diet plan that follows the Israeli Mediterranean food guide. The drink of choice is water with red wine moderately consumed once or twice in the week (2 glasses for male and a glass for female). The menu planning consists of more fruits and vegetables, more proteins for the growing children and a quarter plate portion of whole grains for energy and a good amount of healthy fats
Olive oil is identified as the main healthy fat that replaced processed fats like solid butter and margarine. Its benefits are the reduction in Cardiovascular and chronic diseases like diabetes, stroke, etc. Other forms of healthy fat in the diet are avocado and avocado oils, nuts, etc. Some of these healthy fats can serve as a secondary source of energy for the family’s nutritional needs.
Protein contents of the diet are a combination of animal and plant protein for growth, repair, and muscle build-up. The preferred animal protein would be the fish or seafood, poultry, eggs, beans/legumes, etc. Red and processed meat are avoided completely as it is associated with chronic illnesses. Greek yogurts, milk, and some cheese are also included for good sources of calcium and protein. Growing children need more of these in dominant portions.
Water is chosen as the preferred beverage with a glass or two of wine consumed minimally once or twice a week.
Foods rich in omega 3 fat, fiber, magnesium, folate, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, E and K potassium, B6, and B12 have also been included in the diet plan to meet specific nutritional needs of the elderly adults in the group. (Fruits and vegetables, dairy, olive oil, etc.)
Whole grains as wheat, oatmeal, etc. serve as healthy fiber and carbs to elevate energy levels of the group and as well as provide volume and take a longer duration to digest and as such give a feeling of satiety thereby reducing calories intake. These groups of foods also meet the family’s nutritional needs for antioxidants, fiber, trace minerals (iron, copper, zinc, and magnesium), vitamins, etc.
In addition to the above diet plan, a daily regime for physical activity is observed by all family members. Physical activities like jogging, walking, cycling, swimming, rock or mountain climbing, etc. This in return helps to maintain the overall health and wellness of each person in the family.
Average consumed Nutritional amounts:
- Daily caloric totals range from 1180-1500 calories
- Protein totals range from 37g-90g per day (20-30%) daily
- Carbohydrates range from 100g-150g daily (45-55%) daily
- Healthy fats ranges from 40g-56g (35-45%) daily
- Fiber range from 28g-38g daily. (10-19%) daily
Overall, the Israeli Mediterranean has been known to be a success and a well-structured diet plan that when followed leads to long term positive health benefits. The people of that region are known to have higher life expectancies with the lowest rates of chronic illness if compared to the western regions. The Israeli Mediterranean’s are also very physically active and are known to engage in Communal eating. This, as a result, provides nutritious meals that cater to the needs of all engaged age groups, increases calorie sharing, reduced portion sizes, and healthy weight management.
Most of the benefits of this diet come from the fruits and vegetables, plant protein, and healthy fats which have the required combination of vitamins and minerals without the excess unhealthy calories of processed foods. Another added element that is key is the lifestyle and social influences of people who follow the diet.
It is still maintained that the Israeli Mediterranean diet is better than the western diet because it is known to be overall healthier, free of acidity as it is mostly alkaline based food items, affordable and not only keeps individuals looking and feeling great and confident but also helps in weight management and keeps chronic illnesses further away.
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