Marie V. Delgado

Have you ever asked yourself why the rates of chronic disease are increasing yearly? The diet and lifestyle that we apply to our lives are major factors in the prevention of chronic disease.

Poor eating habits can increase the risk of multi-factorial diseases such as diabetes mellitus, coronary artery disease, hypertension, stroke, cancer and Alzheimer’s.

The good news is there is a diet that is shown to decrease the incidence of having these types of diseases. It is called the Mediterranean diet. This diet originated in the areas of Southern France, Greece, Crete and Italy.

The Mediterranean diet is characterized by less processed foods, which include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, poultry, fish and healthy fats.

According to a recent study done in Germany, the main benefits of the Mediterranean diet are reducing blood lipids that could cause inflammation and an improvement in insulin sensitivity.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fiber and may help in maintaining a healthy weight and having better control over blood sugar levels.

The following are the food categories that make up the Mediterranean diet and some examples of foods in each group.

Vegetables: Vegetables are very important because they are rich in vitamins A, E, C, K, magnesium, copper, and thiamine. Some examples include radishes, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, bell peppers, garlic, eggplant, cucumber and onion.

Fruits: Fruits are high in fiber, vitamin C and potassium. Fruits like oranges, pomegranates, berries, figs, and peaches are just a few examples of fruits that can be included in the Mediterranean diet.

Legumes: Legumes, which include beans and lentils, are rich in folate, vitamin B6, protein and fiber.

Grains: These are a great source of fiber, folate, niacin, magnesium and copper. Some examples include whole grain pasta, whole grain breads and oatmeal.

Seafood: Seafood like tuna and salmon contain essential fatty acids that may help in protecting our bodies against heart failure.

Fats: Healthy sources of fat are found in plant-based oils and nuts such as almonds and walnuts. These sources contain essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6, which can help in preventing hypertension and adiposity.

Are you ready to try these nutritious foods? Go ahead and write them down on your grocery list.

Are you ready to incorporate more nutrient dense foods into your everyday life? The Mediterranean diet is a great place to start.

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Maria V. Delgado is a dietetic intern.

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