The Benefits of Healthy Eating.
The Mediterranean Diet, together with the Japanese Diet and the Paleo Diet, is one of the best way to enjoy the benefits of healthy eating. Being based on fresh foods full of nutrients it’s considered the main reason why so many people in the South of Italy reach an average age above 80 years remaining active and healthy.
Unfortunately what is usually thought to be the Mediterranean diet is not what those people eat, or at least not completely.
Here in Italy the nutritional guidelines put cereals in the first place, that is bread, pasta or pizza, and then fish, meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc. The problem is that in the Mediterranean diet cereals (must) have a very little space otherwise the benefits of healthy eating get lost. Let me tell you a couple of things about cereals:
- they are cheap
- they can be grown quickly using chemicals
- they are a source of energy (carbohydrates) needed especially by our brain to function properly
- they taste good
- they can be sold tens of times their original price
- they get people fat
- they provoke the release of Insulin so that after one hour you’re hungry again
- they make an enormous amount of money so much that they sometimes beat oil as the biggest earner for investors
- they can be genetically modified or irradiated to produce more
Now, you might think I don’t like cereals but this is wrong. I love them as everyone else. Here in Italy we have hundreds of different kinds of pasta, the same goes for bread, and tens of pizzas, how could I not love them? But to be well eating healthy cereals must be taken with a bit of moderation.
I always advise to use the Pareto’s Rule of 80-20. Eighty percent of times you follow your diet and 20 percent of times you eat what you want, pasta, pizza, bread, chocolate, even sodas if you really need to. This means that more or less once a week you can indulge yourself while still enjoying the benefits of healthy eating with the real Mediterranean diet.
The Japanese diet which is the main reason why in Japan so many people become old while still remaining healthy and active is based mainly on four ingredients: fish, rice, algae and vegetables. Meat is also used but the main source of proteins, being an island it’s pretty obvious, is fish. And beside Sumo wrestlers is very hard to find a Japanese being overweight.
Going back to the real Mediterranean diet it is made of fish, only whole cereals and with moderation, a lot of vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, and extra virgin olive oil. As you can see it’s very similar to the Japanese diet and this is why it has the same effects on weight, health and age.
Next time you see a nutritional pyramid where cereals are at the first place you know that it’s not for your health but for the wallets of someone else. Will I eat pizza, pasta and bread? Surely but not everyday as they want me to do. Also if you base your diet on cereals or carbohydrates as a whole reaching a healthy weight is really difficult. So go for fish, vegetables and a bit of pasta, possibly organic.
These are my thoughts on the Mediterranean diet and its cousin the Japanese diet, what do you think? Do you know another diet bringing the same benefits of healthy eating in such a tasteful way?
Picture courtesy of SXC.