Most Americans have heard or read about the health benefits of the so called Mediterranean diet. But is it just about adding more fish, vegetables and fruit to our current diet? Although those are without a doubt very smart choices when it comes to our nutrition, there is more to it.
For starters, it is a way of life. Spaniards, for example, do not think of it as a diet per se. They do not consider it a sacrifice, nor do they think that they are missing out on something better. Buying the freshest fruit and vegetables is done on a daily basis by most families instead opting for the frozen kind. Red meat is not a main staple in their diet as a source of protein, while eggs, poultry, nuts, and fish are. Olive oil is the fat of choice when it comes to frying or seasoning. And, salt is often substituted by herbs to add flavor to most dishes. Therefore, it is about changing the way we think about food, so that we will be able to change our eating habits permanently.
The next important aspect of their way of life when it comes to nutrition is often considered a no-no by many health professionals in America: consuming alcohol. Although it is well documented that drinking alcohol in excess is detrimental to our health, there is not enough said about the benefits of drinking in moderation. We rarely hear about the studies conducted in Europe and Asia with the following findings:
- Moderate drinking results in a considerable decrease in heart disease.
- Most healthy women who consume half a glass of alcohol a day can reduce their chances of heart disease by more than half.
- Moderate drinkers have the greatest longevity.
And last but not least, their way of life includes daily physical activity. We Americans buy those highly advertised exercise-machine wonders or pay costly gym memberships, yet some of us still think of it as working, hence the verb working out. That is the reason why the exercise machines end up stacked up in a corner of our garages, and we look for excuses to skip the gym every time we have a chance. Most Europeans walk in one day more than many of us walk in a week! Again, we have to start by modifying some of our habits if we want to reap the benefits of the Mediterranean way of life.