Fruits, vegetables are healthy favorites


There is not a better time of year to start eating a Mediterranean diet than harvest time. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the foundation on this healthy meal plan. Visiting a farmers’ market or a roadside stand to purchase produce is one of the healthiest things to do.

The climate around the Mediterranean Sea is favorable to farming. The lifestyle and eating habits of these farmers enhance their quality of life. To duplicate the health benefits of living near the sea requires eating fresh foods with plenty of exercise and strong social ties.

The Mediterranean meal plan lifestyle gets its name from the foods of the people who live around the Mediterranean Sea between Europe, the Middle East and Africa. They eat fresh, whole foods, such as, olive oil, nuts, seeds, veggies, fruits and fish. Red meats and processed foods are rare.

Many people have discovered that the Mediterranean diet lifestyle isn’t a restrictive fad diet. It doesn’t eliminate foods more than it encourages adding foods. Saturated fatty foods like meat, dairy and butter are limited while fruits, vegetables and fish are increased. Daily red wine or red grape juice is included.

The Mediterranean diet doesn’t necessarily guarantee weight loss. There is not an official way to follow it. It is beneficial and popular because it’s a well-rounded method to eating healthy foods not necessarily restricting bad foods.

This approach is well known for its benefits to heart health. It reduces the risk of heart disease by lowering levels of LDL cholesterol, the bad kind. Thus reducing mortality from cardiovascular issues. It is also known to shrink the incidences of certain cancers, like breast cancer. Research has also pinpointed fewer cases of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

New evidence suggests that eating like the Mediterraneans may offer protective effects for those with and at risk of Type 2 diabetes. The number one cause of death of those with Type 2 diabetes is heart disease and anything that can decrease cardiovascular events is beneficial. Limiting simple sugars and saturated facts is at the heart of this protective effect.

Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of the Mediterranean diet. Learning the amount of a serving and consuming five to nine portions daily is the key. A serving is not an entire head of cabbage or an apple the size of a softball. Eight ounces of juice is actually two servings and a tennis ball size apple counts as one.

Produce packs an assortment of disease-fighting antioxidants and people who eat at least five to nine servings daily have a lower risk of certain diseases. Sugar has a negative effect on health compared to fruits and vegetables. Sugar, sweet treats, and sugary drinks are limited to special occasions.

Above all else, all meals are consumed in the company of family or friends. Strong social ties are important to a healthy life. Food is celebrated together, not in front of the television.


Bobbie Randall

Contributing columnist

Bobbie Randall is a registered, licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator in Wooster, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected].

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