Diet, Mediterranean style

You might have heard about the Mediterranean diet, but does it make sense for Indians to follow it? The Mediterranean diet is a regimen which has been followed for many years in southern Italy, Greece and Spain.

The typical Mediterranean diet comprises fruits, nuts, raw vegetables, whole pulses, whole grains, olive oil, fish and moderate consumption of dairy and wine, in addition to low intake of meat. The highlight of this diet is the use of cold-pressed olive oil as the major source of fat. Flavoured olive oil is used as a replacement for butter. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids, which reduce cholesterol and protect the heart. The other components of this diet are fruits, vegetables, whole grain bread and the protein comes from skinless chicken, turkey, beans, whole grains and fish such as sardine, salmon and tuna, which are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids. The diet limits consumption of red meat to once or twice a month.

The Mediterranean diet discourages the use of salt and encourages the use of herbs and natural spices. A typical diet includes moderate amount of red wine, which contains antioxidant compounds. Eating low-fat dairy products (mainly curd and cheese) daily, instead of whole milk, will help keep your heart healthy. Snacking on fruits such as bananas, apples and cherries is another highlight of this diet. Eating these fruits and vegetable like tomatoes, olives and eggplants is beneficial as these are high in fibre and rich in beneficial photochemicals, which have protective and disease-preventing properties. The traditional Mediterranean lifestyle is not only about eating healthy but also practicing aerobic activities for at least three hours every week.

When you follow the Mediterranean diet remember that each meal is important and do not skip any meal. Start your day with good breakfast which  contains plenty of proteins. The ideal formula of eating meals is at short intervals of three hours.

Sample meals
Breakfast: Low-fat yogurt with few berries, whole wheat bread with peanut  butter, a cup of strawberries.
Mid-morning: Fruit.
Lunch: A bowl of minestrone soup, grilled salmon, 1 slice of whole wheat pita bread, a few slices of tomatoes, 1 orange, 1 cup greens.
Evening snack: 1/4 cup almonds or peanuts.
Dinner: 1 piece grilled salmon, grilled cauliflower, broccoli and carrots, with a dash of olive oil.  

As told by Dr Anjali  Mukerjee, nutritionist

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