The Mediterranean diet, often considered as the healthiest diet stresses on intake of vegetables, fruits, fish and elimination of red meat, junk and processed food.
Mediterranean diet is the healthiest that has shown to reduce heart risk but did you know that vegetarian diet is easier to digest. Also, too much of meat in the diet can increase the likelihood of getting cancer and heart diseases.
Want to increase longevity? Wish to age gracefully? Yearning to maintain healthy weight? Looking for an easy way to keep cancer and dreaded diseases of the heart at bay? To all these questions there is just one answer – follow the healthiest diet. This simple formula for a healthy living has been known to humans for eternity now. However, in today’s age of computer and technology as people are leading a maniacally erratic lifestyle, little importance is given to the food we eat. Nowadays, meals are nothing but grabbing a burger (stuffed with meat) from fast food restaurants, munching it somehow and then quickly pushing it down the throat. This habit is mainly responsible for the escalating obesity rate in both men and women. Cardiac arrests have also become common, thanks to junk food that has become an ubiquitous resident at our dining table. Although hectic schedule is unavoidable in present times, being physically and mentally fit is not a far fetched possibility, provided a proper diet is followed.
Healthiest Diet Constituents
It is obvious that such a diet comprises healthy foods that are a great source of essential nutrients like vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, proteins and healthy fats. Moreover, these nutrient rich foods are easily available and unlike burgers or pizzas, you don’t have to empty your pocket to include them in your refrigerators. Some of the food items that deserve a place in this diet in the world are mentioned below:
Apart from containing health boosting nutrients (vitamins and minerals), vegetables are packed with phytochemicals, compounds that display disease prevention activity. There are innumerable phytochemicals and quite a few exhibit antioxidant properties and act as natural antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral agents. Some of the healthiest vegetables that are rich in phytochemicals and have high nutrition value are given below:
- Green vegetables like artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach and cauliflower
- Tomatoes, onions and carrots
One of the best ways to reap health benefits of phytochemicals is to prepare a salad from these vegetables. Be it losing weight or ensuring healthy eyes, one can definitely rely on few servings of salad. The habit of eating vegetable salad daily can ensure healthy bowel function and prevent constipation. It is the healthiest food one can gorge on to sharply reduce the risk of various types of cancer.
Phytochemicals like flavonoids are abundantly found in a wide range of fruits. Studies suggest that flavonoids can help to boost both short term and long term memory. Hence, diminishing memory with age might be a thing of the past if variety of foods are included in the diet. Nutritious fruits cut down chances of stroke, heart ailments and cancer as well as improve libido and energy levels. Some of the fruits that have good nutritional profile are given below:
- Apples, bananas, guavas, oranges
- Berries that include blueberries, blackberries and strawberries
- Papayas, mangoes, watermelon and red grapes
- Apricots, grapefruit and plums
Dairy products are important components of the healthiest diet. If you are serious about maintaining a sharp vision for the time to come, there is no substitute for milk. Milk for healthy eyes, an age-old saying, is 100% true because this nutritious liquid contains vitamin A that plays a vital role to keep the vision strong. Besides vitamin A, essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D that promote building of strong bones and teeth are found in ample amounts in milk. Dairy products like freshly prepared yogurt has protein and good bacteria that thwart the onset of infections caused by harmful bacteria.
Just half a cup of cooked kidney or black beans can provide you substantial amount of fiber and protein but most importantly, it decreases the chances of total cholesterol levels, thereby keeping you away from a heart attack.
Seafood like fish (salmon) is a popular brain food, thanks to its rich concentration of omega 3 essential fatty acids. Health experts say that for optimum working of the brain cells, following a diet that provides adequate supply of omega 3 acids is essential. Proteins necessary for proper functioning of muscles are also present in fish. There are people who do not have a liking for fish and so in such circumstances including fish oil supplements in the diet is a good solution. Although chicken is categorized under fatty foods, when its skin is removed, it is found to be low in fats. Hence, having lean cuts of chicken is no harm and in addition it is a good source of protein.
Eating nuts won’t drive you ‘nuts’ but will drive you towards better health. Whether it is walnuts, almonds or cashew nuts, having them in moderation is always good for the heart. If walnuts boast of high concentration of omega 3 acids, then almonds can be looked upon as an excellent source of minerals like calcium and magnesium as well vitamin E. So, those bragging about following a diet that is healthiest and not eating nuts in moderation need to modify their diet.
Whole Grain Products
Whole grain products play a critical role in decreasing the risk of cardiovascular problems and type 2 diabetes, as studies suggest. Coming to their nutritional profile, whole grain products are good sources of B vitamins and fiber. As it has high concentration of fiber, eating whole grain products guarantees healthy bowel movement. They include:
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat bread
- Whole grain breakfast cereals
You may be ensuring that you have access to healthiest food but in case you are using hydrogenated oil to make day-to-day meals, then the very purpose of following the most healthiest and intelligent diet goes in vain. This is because hydrogenated oil like margarine contains unhealthy fats (trans fats) that increase the risk of heart attacks. Hence, one should be careful when it comes to choosing cooking oil. Extra virgin olive oil tops the list of healthiest cooking oil as it has good amount of omega 3 acids. No wonder, cooking in olive oil is often recommended for patients suffering from high cholesterol and heart ailments. Those finding olive oil expensive can go in for canola oil. Healthy cooking oil means saying no to deep frying and one should preferably opt for broiling, grilling and baking.
What is the Healthiest Diet to Follow?
Definitely Mediterranean! Why? Simply because it supports all the aspects of a diet that is healthiest. Every meal in the Mediterranean diet involves generous use of vegetables, fruits, legumes, herbs, whole grain products, nuts and seeds. Herbs like ginger protect against colon cancer and is useful for the treatment of wide range of health issues like heartburn, arthritis and ovarian cancer. No wonder, ginger forms an integral part of this diet plan. On the other hand, poultry and meat are not given much importance. Instead, the emphasis is more on fish that has to be eaten at least twice a week. Studies show that drinking red wine in moderation is heart friendly, that is why this beverage has found a place in the Mediterranean diet. Extensive research has proved that people put on a Mediterranean diet are at a lower risk of developing heart problems.
Therefore, make sure that you stick to a healthy and salubrious diet, whatever may be the circumstances. A point to note is that following this diet does not mean overeating. Food, no matter how healthy it is, will cause harm when eaten in excess. Therefore, eating heavy, large sized meals has to be avoided. Success with a diet that is healthiest is guaranteed, when it is complemented with 30-40 minutes of moderate level exercise. So, don’t forget to spend some time everyday in following an exercise routine that suits your age and comfort level. Eat healthy, stay healthy!