Everything you need to know about a Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is one of the diet types that DNAFit suggests for you according to your genetic results. If you have a low to medium sensitivity towards both carbohydrates as well as saturated fats then this would be the optimal diet type for you. Here's what the Mediterranean diet is, an example of a Mediterranean diet plan and how it keeps you healthy.

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What is a Mediterranean diet?

Traditionally the Mediterranean diet is portrayed as a plant-based diet pattern where high intake of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, pulses (split peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas), nuts, seeds, olive oil and fish, a moderate intake of dairy products and white meats, and a low consumption of red meats and sugars is recommended.

To summarise, it is a moderate unrefined fibrous carbohydrate, unsaturated fat diet with a moderate to low protein intake. In terms of percentages, it suggests that 50-55% of the daily calories would be derived from unrefined carbohydrates (where approximately 8-10% could come from refined carbohydrates), 30-35% from fats and the remaining 15-20% from protein.

 

What foods should you eat with a Mediterranean diet?

Even though you have a lower sensitivity to carbohydrates and fats it is still important to consider the type and amount you include within your diet.

The basic make-up of a Mediterranean diet implies that your carbohydrates should be high in fiber with a low glycemic index and low glycemic load – refer to our low carbohydrate diet article for more insight into the glycemic index and load. 

Your fat choices should be particularly rich in monounsaturated fats (with emphasis on olive oil) and omega 3’s (from oily fish) – this was covered in more detail in our low-fat diet blog.

 

An example of a Mediterranean diet in action

The Mediterranean diet is quite easy to follow if you know which foods to eat. To give you a better idea of what a Mediterranean diet looks like we have compiled a sample menu for a 1500 – 1800 kcal plan. This includes easy Mediterranean diet recipes for you to include daily:

BREAKFAST

Sunflower, Banana and Peanut Butter Toast

 

MORNING SNACK

LUNCH

Steamed Fish, Bulgur Wheat and Lentils with Zucchini Noodles

 

AFTERNOON SNACK

SUPPER

Artichoke, Asparagus and Brown Rice Salad with a Baked Chicken Thigh

 

How the Mediterranean diet keeps us healthy

A lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes has been related to the Mediterranean diet, as well as B group vitamin (B1, B2, niacin, B6, folate, and B12) and antioxidant (vitamins A, C and E) sufficiency - this can be particularly useful if your DNAFit results indicate that you have an increased need for these micronutrients.  

Your B vitamins are found in fruit, vegetables, fish and pulses, where in comparison your antioxidants can also be found in fruit and vegetables, as well as nuts, seeds and avocado. By including these foods you will go a long way to prevent heart disease and lower your blood pressure as this is impacted by both your diet and exercising regularly.

Research shows that following a Mediterranean diet contributes to greater longevity and quality of life. It states how: a systematic review was made and a total of 43 articles corresponding to 35 different experimental studies were selected.

Results were analyzed for the effects of the Mediterranean diet on lipoproteins, endothelial resistance, diabetes and antioxidative capacity, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, cancer, body composition, and psychological function. The Mediterranean diet showed favorable effects on lipoprotein levels, endothelium vasodilation, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, antioxidant capacity, myocardial and cardiovascular mortality, and cancer incidence.”

Due to it not being a restrictive diet, you will also feel less constrained by what you eat and more focused on enjoying both food and life. You would still need to avoid foods that are known to be unhealthy, but the range of foods that you can choose from outweighs this.

Discovering the diet plan that is perfect for your individual genetic structure is a personalized approach to nutrition and has been shown to be more effective than traditional diet methods. By eating for our unique dietary needs it’s easier to make long-term sustainable changes to improve our health and wellbeing.

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