The Mediterranean Food Pyramid

Article by Diet Bites

Defining Differences in Food Pyramids

When the Mediterranean Food Pyramid is compared to the standard USDA food pyramid there are visible differences.  

The most popular health note is that the Mediterranean Food Pyramid makes use of wine with meat.  

Here are a few more differences:

The preferred oil in the diet is olive oil and is recommended to be used sparingly.

Red meat consumption is downplayed and poultry and fish take precedence.  

The Mediterranean Food Pyramid recommends that meats be consumed a few times per week.

The use of dairy in the diet is advised less frequently. Milk is more apt to be used as a coffee lightener than as a beverage at meal time.

Beans, legumes, nuts, fruits, vegetables, grains, pasta, rice and potatoes  are recommended on a daily basis.

Desserts are recommended to be enjoyed a few times per month.

Is the Mediterranean Diet Healthier Than the American Diet?

While the population of the Mediterranean suffers from few incidents related to the heart, they also experience a higher rate of stroke. Given such, this culture tends to live longer than Americans. Therefore, incident of stroke may be associated with age rather than diet - or it may be a factor of the culture itself.

On the other hand, many Americans cannot afford proper medical care which often places their health in jeopardy.

At this writing, both diets have healthy elements embedded within.

Dairy in the Eating Plan, Healthy Benefit

Although we feel that decreasing meat intake may offer substantial health benefits, we cannot agree with the Mediterranean Food Pyramid's recommendation regarding moderate amounts of dairy product consumption.  

This is due to recent studies which clearly indicate that incorporating milk (and certain types of dairy products) in the diet not only promotes weight loss at a quicker pace, milk consumption also helps maintain weight.

There is a caveat that we would add to this; most individuals who make room for milk in their eating plan also make room for other foods containing elements connected to improved health such as those rich in dietary fiber, low in fatty acids and harmful lipids, sources derived from plant rather than animal proteins as well as whole grain food choices.

They also tend to add a lot of color to their plates in the form of leafy greens, orange and yellow vegetables - and they fortify their immunity with additions of foods from the citrus family such as oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit.

Picture of Mediterranean Diet Pyramid & the American Food Pyramid for Comparison

Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

Picture of American Food Pyramid Guide

In Summary

Unfortunately, at this time there is no 'perfect diet' that guarantees one's good health. We can however, take certain elements from different plans and build one that best suits our personal dietary needs.

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