Mediterranean Diet Myths Busted

Unlike many fad diets, the Mediterranean Diet just doesn’t seem to go out of style. That’s in part because of a persistent influx of research touting its benefits. To be clear what we’re talking about here, the Mediterranean Diet is a pattern of eating that features a bounty of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts and whole grains; a moderate amount of fish and poultry and wine with meals; and minimal amounts of dairy, sweets and red or processed meats. Find out more about what the Mediterranean Diet is and isn’t with these myths:

Myth #1: It’s expensive.

As a plant-based eating pattern, the Mediterranean Diet can be actually less expensive than meat-heavy eating plans. This idea was asserted by a study published in the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, in which low-income participants were taught to cook meals with olive oil, but without meat, poultry or fish. They ended up reducing their grocery bills. Try it yourself by planning more meals featuring beans or lentils as the main protein.

Myth #2: If one glass of wine a day is good, more must be better.

A friend once asked me, “red wine is good for you, so a lot of wine must be really good for you, right?” Unfortunately, no. While moderate amounts of red wine (one drink a day for women; two for men) can be heart-healthy, more than that has the opposite effect. And any amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of certain cancers — meaning, if you’re not a drinker, there’s no reason to start. In fact, a study in the journal Circulation Research found that non-alcoholic red wine lowered blood pressure better than the regular red wine.

Myth #3: It’s only about the food.

While the food is a huge part of the diet, don’t overlook the lifestyle component of the Mediterranean Diet. How you eat — sitting down for a relaxed, leisurely meal with others — may be just as important for your health as what’s on your plate.

Myth #4: This is the only way you should eat.

There’s no one “right” way for anyone to eat. Although the Mediterranean Diet seems to be a healthy way of eating, do what feels right for your body. Other cultures also have cuisines that have been touted for their health benefits, such as Japanese, Vietnamese and Indian.

Recipes to Try:

Mediterranean Farro Salad (pictured above)

Grilled Swordfish with Lemon, Mint and Basil

Greek Caponata

Fusilli with Spinach and Asiago Cheese

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