Last week I watched a webinar on “Navigating the Diet Maze” from Eat Smart Move More Weigh Less that looked into the popular diets of today’s world and what the best diet would be for our health. Dr. Carolyn Dunn from NC State University discussed many fads that consume our media.
The video began by discussing some food groups that should be included and some that should be limited in your diet. The food groups that were important to include were known as the super foods which are fruits and vegetables (check out my previous article on fruits and vegetables), nuts, whole grains, beans and legumes, and plant based oils (such as olive oil). If the diet you’re looking into restricts or removes these foods, this is a red flag and may not be the best for your health. All of these food groups have amazing health benefits such as nuts lower the risk of obesity, whole grains decrease inflammation (inflammation in the body means something is wrong and you should seek a doctor if experiencing this), plant based oils have a protective effect against coronary heart disease, and legumes/beans can lower blood pressure and lower the risk for coronary heart disease. There are also foods that should be limited which include sugar, red meat, butter, and processed foods.
After going through several fad diets such as gluten free, paleo, low fat, and low carb, Dr. Dunn spoke about the Mediterranean Diet, or rather Mediterranean way of life, which fit perfectly into our food group recommendations listed above. The Mediterranean lifestyle showed supporting evidence for protecting against heart disease, brain health (risk of Alzheimer’s disease was reduced by 40 percent), stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. So what does this way of life consist of? Lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, herbs, fish, olive oil, nuts, and lots of walking. The Mediterranean diet incorporates a wellness approach that includes being active, such a large component of keeping our bodies healthy and happy. Here is a list of the typical Mediterranean diet:
* Eat fruits and vegetables at least 5 cups a day
* Choose legumes and beans over red meat
* Consume a variety of whole grains
* Consume at least 3 oz. a week of nuts
* Consume at least 4 tablespoons of olive oil a day
* Choose fresh herbs over salt
* Eat fish at least 3 times a week
* Eat poultry at least 2 times a week
* Drink at most two glasses of red wine a day
* Walk 30 minutes a day
* Have no more than 3 servings a week of sugar
* Restrict red meat to 2 to 3 times a month
* Rarely/never consume stick butter/margarine, fast food, and processed foods
* Consume 1-2 servings of dairy a day (mostly as cheese or yogurt)
Go to esmmweighless.com/newsletter-webinars/ if you would like to watch this free series. It is full of great tips on how to stay healthy, with topics that many of us struggle with or that may be confusing.
For more information, contact Sydney Johnson, Family & Consumer Sciences agent, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, at 910-592-7161.