According to everydaythealth.com, Dr. Connie Guttersen, RD, the creator of the Mediterranean-inspired Sonoma Diet, teaches the foundation behind this whole-foods lifestyle.
Low-fat is out, and the healthy fat found in olive oil, nuts, and avocados is in. This Mediterranean-inspired way of eating not only helps control weight and lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but also, it can lower the risk of heart disease by 30 percent, according to a study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Guttersen explains five fundamentals of this popular diet:
The diet is rich in inflammation-fighting antioxidants from colorful fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, and beans. Inflammation is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease, and these protective compounds act as powerful anti-inflammatory agents. Also, the fatty acid profile of the diet is rich in monounsaturated fat, but low in saturated fat, both of which help protect against heart disease. A glass of wine every day is common practice in the Mediterranean way of eating, and studies have found that this is a protective feature against many diseases, including heart disease.
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes the importance of the whole meal, the combinations of the foods, and the idea of finding a style of eating that is delicious, easy, and enjoyable, so that people can really make it part of their lifestyle. The point of the diet is to savor a meal, whether it’s with family and friends, or relaxing alone at home. Making the effort to unplug, unwind, sit down, and establish some healthy eating habits is key, even if that means slowing down and enjoying a glass of wine with your meal — or having a piece of dark chocolate later.
Healthy oils, such as the monounsaturated oils found in olives, olive oil, nuts, and avocado offer a healthy fatty acid profile which is protective against risk factors associated with inflammation, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. A big misconception of the Mediterranean diet is that it is a very high fat diet based on olive oil only. Although oil is a principle source of fat, nuts and seeds are also significant fat sources in the diet.
More Produce, Less Meat
This plant-based diet offers protective nutrients such as antioxidants, phytochemicals, fiber, and healthful plant oils. This wholesome way of eating gives your body the nutrients it craves and needs to function properly, which helps cut out the desire for junk. Also, locally grown food is favored, because calorie for calorie, it may offer more nourishment and flavor than foods that have traveled thousands of miles to get to your plate. Although vegetables are the focus of the diet, shellfish and fatty fish such as salmon are also encouraged at least twice a week. Red meats are to be avoided if possible, and when eaten, it’s recommended to keep portions to 4 ounces or smaller.
In the Mediterranean diet, herbs and spices play a starring role by adding flavor without added salt and fat. Bay leaves, chili powder, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, oregano, dried mint, thyme, and ground cinnamon are all Mediterranean-friendly ingredients that allow grains and vegetables to be the star of the meal, without even missing the meat. Additionally, cooking veggies with healthy oils, like extra virgin olive oil, not only enhances the taste, but also increases the nutrition benefits by unleashing phytochemicals and antioxidants more powerfully.