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The Mediterranean Diet

Posted on February 1, 2022 at 7:52 AM by IWLS Dietitians

For the fourth year in a row the Mediterranean diet has been named the number one overall diet by the  U.S. News & World Report1, which compares the 40 most popular diets. Among of the lowest ranking diets assessed were the ketogenic diet, modified keto diet, and Dukan diet. Strict diets such as these tend to restrict entire food groups, which in the long run are difficult to maintain and may lack certain essential nutrients needed.

The Mediterranean diet stole the spotlight again due to the emphasis on fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans/lentils), healthy oils, fish and moderate amounts of lean meats. Those following a Mediterranean diet may limit refined grains, processed/packaged foods, red meats, and trans fats.

Coming in second place was the DASH diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) which focuses on fruits, vegetables, lower fat dairy, whole grains, nuts and lean meats. Notice any similarities between the two? If you guessed plant-focused you are right!

A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association2 found a 25% reduction in death from any cause for those who followed a plant-based diet. Another study in the Journal of Geriatric Cardiology3 found that eating a plant-based diet is correlated with a reduced risk of heart disease and type II diabetes.

The Mediterranean diet is not a set diet or structured eating plan but a way of eating, or eating pattern. Unlike some popular fad diets that are overly restrictive and focus on elimination, this diet is about moderation and incorporating large amounts of produce which can naturally reduce foods higher in calories, saturated fats and added sugars. Build your meals around vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Search for ways to make vegetables the star of the meal and not the side dish. Serve fresh fruits with meals and opt for olive oil over butter. Explore recipes with lots of spices or new ways of cooking vegetables you may never have tried.

When was the last time you looked up a new recipe? It might be the time! There are entire free websites dedicated to Mediterranean style dishes, or consider buying a Mediterranean cookbook if you prefer a written copy (consider a second-hand bookstore or used copy off Amazon to save money).

If you are unsure of where to start and what foods you should be eating.  Please reach out to our Iowa Weight Loss Specialists team!  We are here to help!

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