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- American Heart Association: Mediterranean Diet
- MayoClinic.com: Mediterranean Diet: Choose this heart-healthy diet option
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The Mediterranean diet and the standard American diet are almost polar opposites of one another 1. While the Mediterranean diet is high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, the average American diet is high in refined carbohydrates, sugars and red meats 1. However, the majority of calories consumed in both of these diets comes from fat. In Mediterranean diets, monounsaturated fats are typically consumed, which do not raise cholesterol levels like the saturated fats consumed in the typical American diet 1.
The phrase "Mediterranean diet" refers to the common dietary patterns among the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The main type of fat in the Mediterranean diet is olive oil, an important monounsaturated fat source. Poultry and dairy products like cheese and yogurt are consumed in moderate amounts, almost daily, while fish and seafood are eaten about twice a week. Small amounts of red meat are occasionally eaten.
Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet's reliance on fresh foods means there are lower amounts of hydrogenated oils and higher amounts of fiber and other essential nutrients. Also, because most of the fat comes from olive oil, nuts and fish, this diet contains very little saturated and trans fats and large quantities of omega-3s. Furthermore, because of the wide variety of spices available, salt is not a heavily used seasoning.
Standard American Diet
Dangers of the Standard American Diet
Common ingredients of the typical American diet include:
- high fructose corn syrup
- trans fats
- hydrogenated oils
- white sugar
- enriched flours
- food dyes
- artificial flavors
- many other chemical additives
This is one of the reasons this diet has been deemed unhealthy by health communities.
Another big difference between the Mediterranean and American plans is exercise 1. The average American's lifestyle tends to be more sedentary, where exercise is not a priority. While getting a gym membership is not necessarily a requirement for a Mediterranean diet, the Mediterranean people tend to be much more active then their American counterparts 1. This likely stems from cultural differences, such as not having to rely on cars as a main source of transportation.
The Mediterranean diet and the standard American diet are almost polar opposites of one another. While the Mediterranean diet is high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, the average American diet is high in refined carbohydrates, sugars and red meats. Another big difference between the Mediterranean and American plans is exercise. While getting a gym membership is not necessarily a requirement for a Mediterranean diet, the Mediterranean people tend to be much more active then their American counterparts.
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