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The Mediterranean diet: Your questions answered

The Mediterranean diet has been a popular lifestyle choice for years, unlike many fads that go out of fashion as quickly as they come in. The Meditteranean diet is popular perhaps because it is very similar to the NHS Eatwell guide. It is also linked to good heart and overall health. 


More than that, it’s the kind of diet that doesn’t feel like a diet. You don’t have to cut out pasta or potatoes or any other tasty carbs. It’s no wonder people are opting for this over other more restrictive diets. 


We’ve collected and answered some of the most common questions surrounding the Mediterranean diet:


What does the Mediterranean diet consist of?


This diet is straightforward to follow. You should aim to eat lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, grains and cereals, beans, seafood and unsaturated fats like olive oil. 


At the same time, you should also cut down on your intake of dairy, eggs, meat, processed foods and sweets, although you don’t have to cut them out entirely. 


Why is the Mediterranean diet good for you? 


Unlike the many fads that come and go, there has been thorough research into the health benefits of opting for the Mediterranean diet, including reducing the risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol and type 2 diabetes developing, all of which are associated with heart disease.


Research has also found that people who follow this type of diet are less likely to experience weight gain and more likely to live longer. 


Some studies have also found a link between this diet and a reduced risk of symptoms of depression and cancer (although cancer is not linked to one key thing).


Research is still ongoing, yet it seems that the focus on the whole diet rather than one type of food makes this diet so successful.


What are the negatives of the Mediterranean diet?


Perhaps the biggest concern with this diet is the reduction in dairy and meat. Unfortunately, this means that you won’t be getting your usual intake of vitamin D and calcium. However, other foods can help you meet your minimum recommended intake, so we recommend doing thorough research to ensure you consume the right amount of nutrients. This should be done for any diet you are contemplating taking on. 


With a higher focus on seeds, nuts, and fish, this type of diet can be more costly than your usual diet. However, you can reduce the costs by opting for frozen fish, for example. Shopping the sales is another way to lighten the expenses. The great news is that seeds and nuts have a long shelf life, so while it may feel expensive, you won’t have to worry about restocking for a while.


As with any other lifestyle change, if you have a diagnosed medical condition, you should seek guidance from your doctor to ensure it is safe to alter your diet. 


Can you lose weight on a Mediterranean diet?


Yes, you can, thanks to the nutrient-rich food you’ll be enjoying while cutting back on anything that has been processed or has sugar added in. A study with more than 32,000 participants following a Mediterranean diet resulted in weight loss and reduced belly fat over five years. Additionally, an overview of five studies also found that this diet was effective for weight loss.


However, you must remember that even though you can eat a variety of carbohydrates as part of this diet, this should be done in moderation if you are hoping to lose weight. 


Following any diet should include taking regular exercise to ensure a healthy lifestyle.


How do I start the Mediterranean diet? 


If you want to try out the Mediterranean diet, we recommend taking small steps rather than jumping in at the deep end. For example, you can begin by adding more vegetables to your dinner plate, opting for fruit or carrot sticks as a snack and replacing butter and oils for olive oil. 


It’s always recommended to speak with your doctor before trying out any new diet to ensure it’s a good route for you to take.