The three types of diets, which include Mediterranean, Vegetarian, and Vegan diets, have become very popular in this era. There’s a lot of confusion between them among many people. Somehow, they are not sure which one to choose because they are unaware of their differentiation.
That’s why we have compiled information on these diets to give you detailed knowledge about them. It will help you to choose the one that meets your requirements. After knowing the type of foods included in each diet, you can decide which one to choose.
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What is the Mediterranean Diet?
There’s no exact definition of the Mediterranean diet. Still, if we look at its history, we find its origin from the traditional cuisine of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. In 1960, people used to eat food in countries like Italy and Greece which is generally known as the Mediterranean diet. Research shows people in those regions used to have a low risk of many diseases as compared to Americans.
The selection of this type of diet is based on its enormous benefits, which help in maintaining a healthy life. For example, it can cause weight loss and prevents severe strokes, heart attacks, premature death, and type 2 diabetes. These are the reasons why people choose the Mediterranean diet over other diets.
Another essential factor to know is that there’s no exact method to follow the Mediterranean diet because nearly all the countries around the Mediterranean Sea have eaten different foods in different regions. Yet there is a lot common among them which can be followed that comes under Mediterranean diet. We will be discussing the benefits, what to eat, what to avoid following the Mediterranean diet in the article.
What are the Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet?
It is widely acclaimed for its health benefits which are enormous in number. The wide range of benefits is due to the consumption of food that is completely healthy for the human body. The Mediterranean diet’s key components that benefit your body include vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, fruits, healthy fats, and legumes. Besides, the amount of less healthy ingredients such as red meat, processed food, and sweets are restricted under this type of diet. Let’s talk about each benefit in detail.
- Prevents Heart Attacks
The studies have found incredible results where the Mediterranean diet enhances heart health. While following the Mediterranean diet that includes nuts or olive oil for more than three months leads to improvements in cholesterol and systolic blood pressure levels, which are completely risky for heart disease.
Another study shows that following the Mediterranean diet that includes eating 30 grams of mixed nuts daily for a year can reduce the occurrence of metabolic syndrome by almost 14%. The occurrence of this type of syndrome can increase the risk of stroke, diabetes, and heart diseases. A report shows people with diabetes are also benefited from the Mediterranean diet by lowering the risk of diseases and strokes.
2. Increases Weight Loss
The Mediterranean diet involves eating nutrient-rich foods and prevents added sugar, and processed foods which can help with weight loss. That’s why this diet is great for weight loss and helps to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A review based on five studies found that the Mediterranean diet is more effective than other diets like the low-carb diet for weight loss. It results in up to 22 pounds of weight loss in one year, which is an unbelievable figure for such a short time.
Besides the increase in weight loss, it is also entirely responsible for decreasing weight gain and belly fat. This was proved by research held on over 32,000 people, and the period was more than five years. So, the Mediterranean diet has been proved as an effective diet in reducing weight.
3. Reduces Inflammation
The reduced inflammation level helps your immune system in protecting against infections and illness. So, it has to be reduced and controlled for a healthy body able to protect against diseases. The increase in inflammation level can be responsible for developing health diseases, diabetes, and cancer.
Research held over 598 people found that the Mediterranean diet was linked to lower inflammation levels on several markers. Similarly, another study in 66 adults who followed the Mediterranean diet for more than three years showed a significant decrease in inflammation level. So, we can conclude the Mediterranean diet can benefit people who have higher inflammation levels or prevent an increase in inflammation.
4. Manages Type 2 Diabetes
Another benefit of following the Mediterranean diet is that it could protect against type 2 diabetes. There are 52% fewer chances of developing type 2 diabetes for over an average of four years compared with other people. It was proved in a study done on 418 people, and results were outstanding in favor of protecting the body against type 2 diabetes.
Similarly, another study on 901 people with type 2 diabetes showed that the Mediterranean diet is responsible for lowering blood sugar levels and a market for long-term blood sugar control. Furthermore, it can also help to improve the body’s ability to use hormones to regulate blood sugar. Overall, directly or indirectly, following the Mediterranean diet protects your body against type 2 diabetes.
What Foods to Eat on the Mediterranean Diet?
There is some sort of variation between different countries in eating the food while following the Mediterranean diet. Still, there’s a lot common among all of them that we will consider there. The ratio of plant foods under this type of diet is comparatively higher than animal foods.
The diet mainly includes unprocessed Mediterranean food, which includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, tubers, whole grains, fish, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy, herbs, spices, and healthy fats only. You can mainly drink water and avoid alcohol consumption. Besides, wine, tea and coffee are completely acceptable but avoid fruit juices that are high in sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages.
What Foods to Avoid on the Mediterranean Diet?
You have to avoid mainly processed foods as well as foods and drinks containing sugar. If we go further on the list of foods that you should avoid in the Mediterranean diet it includes added sugar foods such as soda candies, ice cream, and many others. It includes refined grains, Trans fats, refined oils, process meats, and highly processed foods. You need to pay attention while reading the food labels to avoid these unhealthy ingredients. Read the blog, Understanding Food Labels: A Matter of Life and Health.
What is a Vegetarian Diet?
The vegetarian diet is another type of diet that has gained popularity in the past years. Research shows that the number of vegetarians worldwide is up to 18% which is a significant number to consider. It includes eating meat, poultry, and fish. Vegetarians choose their diet based on ethical, religious, or personal interest in benefiting the environment, especially animals.
Besides ethical and environmental benefits, a vegetarian diet also helps in reducing the risk of chronic diseases, improves your diet quality, and causes weight loss. The vegetarian diet is further divided into various types that include the Lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, Lacto-vegetarian diet, Ovo-vegetarian diet, Pescatarian diet, and many more. Let’s discuss some main benefits you can get following the vegetarian diet.
What are the Benefits of the Vegetarian Diet?
Vegetarians mainly choose this diet for the sake of the environment but get health benefits besides helping the environment. A study shows that vegetarians have a higher intake of essential nutrients like vitamin C, E, fiber, and magnesium when compared with meat-eaters. Some other health benefits that you will receive as a vegetarian are the following.
- Reduces Heart Disease
Vegetarian diets help in reducing many heart disease risk factors to keep your heart healthy and body strong. A study in 76 people who were following vegetarian diets had lower triglycerides levels, total cholesterol, and unhealthy LDL cholesterol—the main risk factors for heart disease. Similarly, another research found that people having a low-calorie vegetarian diet are more effective at reducing unhealthy LDL cholesterol than any other diet.
Vegetarian diets also help in lowering blood pressure levels that help in reducing heart disease. Because higher blood pressure is the main factor in generating heart disease, which is perfectly controlled with vegetarian diets. From the results of these few research, we can conclude that it reduces heart diseases.
2. Stabilizes Blood Sugar
The experts admire that a vegetarian diet helps a lot in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. An overview of multiple studies proves how a vegetarian diet improves blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. If we talk about the long-term benefits, we find it prevents diabetes by stabilizing blood sugar levels.
If you switch from a non-vegetarian to a vegetarian diet, there are chances of reducing the risk of diabetes to 53% over an average of five years, according to a study.
3. Increase Weight Loss
If you struggle with weight gain for an extended period, switch to a vegetarian diet, and you will make a significant change in weight loss. So, another important benefit you are getting here while helping the environment is weight loss. A study shows that on average vegetarians experience 4.5 more pounds of weight loss than non-vegetarians over the period of 18 weeks.
Furthermore, another six-month study on 74 people shows that people with type 2 diabetes following vegetarian diets were benefited twice in reducing body weight than other diets. Vegetarians tend to have a lower BMI (body mass index) than omnivores as a measurement of body fat based on weight and height. It proves the vegetarian diets clearly help in enhancing weight loss.
4. Reduces Cancer Risk
Many research results prove vegetarian diets help reduce cancer risk, especially breast, colon, stomach, and rectum. The studies are very specific, but the results are enormous, showing how following vegetarian diets reduce cancer risks in different body organs. What’s more important to notice is that the diet helps you as well as the environment and animals around you.
What Foods to Eat on a Vegetarian Diet?
The vegetarian diet mainly includes vegetables, protein-rich plants, fruits, grains, healthy fats, and proteins. Since you are not going for meat as a vegetarian, you need to replace the protein provided by meat with something else. It is nicely done by including various protein-rich plant food such as tempeh, tofu, seeds, nuts, and seitan.
The further types of vegetarian diets go for a more specific food, such as if you follow a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, you should intake eggs and dairy to increase your protein in the body. The nutritional gaps in your diet can be filled by taking foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that supply a wide range of necessary vitamins and minerals.
What Foods to Avoid in a Vegetarian Diet?
Each variation of vegetarianism has different restrictions, but we will go for the ones that are common among all. The most common food to avoid with nearly all types of vegetarian diets is meat, but some avoid all meat, poultry, and fish. There are types of vegetarians that avoid foods like dairy and eggs as well.
Mainly you need to avoid meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, meat-based ingredients, eggs, dairy products, and animal products. Not all vegetarians avoid these foods; most avoid meat, fish, and poultry, but some also restrict eggs, dairy, and other animal products. Restricting food is more important in all vegetarian diets rather than eating particular foods.
What is a Vegan Diet?
A vegan diet is one of the types of vegetarian diets that have become very famous these days. Mainly people go for vegan diets because of ethical, health, and environmental reasons. If it is followed perfectly well, it helps in multiple ways in benefiting your health issues, such as improving blood sugar control. The diet is entirely based on intaking plant food only and causes some risks of nutrient deficiencies. The deficiency is fulfilled by eating nutrient-based plant food such as fruits.
Veganism is based on excluding all forms of animal exploitation, cruelty for food, clothing, and other purposes. That’s why vegans avoid all forms of animal foods and food led by animals such as eggs and dairy. If we conclude, we can say a vegan diet excludes all animal products. People choose vegan food for ethical, health, and environmental issues.
What are the Types of Vegan Diets?
There are many types of vegan diets depending upon the intake of food. These diets are considered different but scientific research rarely differentiates them. The most common types include:
- Raw-food vegan diet: It is based on various nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and plant foods cooked at temperatures below 118°F.
- Whole-food vegan diet: This diet is based on whole plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nearly all vegetarian food.
- The starch solution: It is similar to 80/10/10 but focuses on cooked starches instead of fruit.
- 80/10/10: A raw food vegan diet that limits fat-rich plants such as nuts and avocados.
- Raw till 4: The raw food consumed until 4:00 p.m., inspired by the 80/10/10 with the option of a cooked plant-based meal for dinner.
- Junk-food vegan diet: A vegan diet heavily relied on cheese, fries, vegan desserts, and other vegan processed food.
- The thrive diet: It is a raw food vegan diet that includes plant-based food that is minimally cooked at low temperatures.
What are the Benefits of the Vegan Diet?
Consumption of plant food is more beneficial for better health. However, avoiding all meat can cause a deficiency of nutrients. Still, it can be maintained by the consumption of nutrients-based plant food such as fruits. Overall, there are more benefits of the vegan diet when compared with non-vegan diets. Let’s go through all the main benefits your body can get while following vegan diets.
- Increases Weight Loss
According to research, vegans are thinner and have a lower body mass index (BMI) when compared with non-vegan bodies. This is why people become vegans when they need to lose weight. The health-related behaviors, healthy lifestyle, and physical activities of vegans are comparatively better.
Considerable research shows that a vegan diet controls more weight than any other diet. Also, these diets are recommended by American health organizations such as American Dietetic Association (ADA), the American Heart Association (AHA), and the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP). Another result shows that people following vegan diets lose more weight than those following calorie-restricted diets. So, we can conclude, it is the most effective diet when it comes to weight loss.
2. Benefits Heart Health
The vegan diet plays effective in keeping your heart healthy. The reports are based on research showing that a vegan has up to 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure. It leads to a 42% lower risk of dying from heart disease caused by high blood pressure. When other diets were compared with vegan diets, it was found more effective at reducing blood sugar, total cholesterol, and LDL responsible for heart health risks.
The effects of reduced blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol help in reducing heart disease risk by up to 46%, according to a report. So, the diet either directly or indirectly affects heart health in a good way by reducing the risk chances. We also recommend people suffering from heart diseases follow vegan diets because of the various benefits for heart health.
3. Other Health Benefits
Besides controlling weight, reducing heart risks, it benefits health in other various ways. A study shows that vegans are at a 15% lower risk of developing cancerous cells or dying from cancer than non-vegan. Similarly, there are more chances of reducing symptoms of arthritis, such as pain and morning stiffness.
Vegans who replace meat with plant food having proteins automatically reduce the risk of poor kidney function. Also, the studies show that vegan diets reduce the risk of developing the disease Alzheimer’s. Keep in mind that the studies are just observational, and results may vary but not significantly.
What Food to Eat in a Vegan Diet?
The vegan diet is all about replacing animal products with plant-based food such as tofu, tempeh, seitan, legumes, nuts, seeds, algae, nutritional yeast, whole grains, cereals, fermented plant foods, fruits, and vegetables. All these foods are further sub-categorized that you can follow under this diet. The vegan diet is further categorized into various types depending upon the food eaten, which we have already discussed previously.
What Foods to Avoid on a Vegan Diet?
Mainly vegans avoid eating animal food and foods having ingredients derived from animals. It includes meat, poultry, fish, seafood, dairy, eggs, bee products, and other animal-based ingredients. This is the list of general products that are further categorized as well, which mainly includes derived animal food.
How to Choose a Diet?
You might be confused about deciding which diet to choose. You need to follow some questions that arise in your mind and end up with the one you find is the best diet for you. First, make sure the diet you are going to follow matches your eating style. Otherwise, you have to change your eating style which can cost a lot and may become difficult to follow.
Second, make sure it matches your exercise level and you are able to live with it consistently for long-term planning. Then, check if the diet includes the foods you like. Overall, the diet must match your lifestyle and habits. Otherwise, you may not properly follow the diet and end up with no results.
To Sum Up
All these diets have a wide range of health benefits and vary a little. For example, the vegan diet is a type of vegetarian diet having almost the same effects on health. We recommend you follow the one that matches your health needs and the food you can easily consume. Otherwise, you may not be able to follow if the wrong diet is chosen. All the data provided in this article is certified but based on observational research. Still, it is enough to give you an idea of the impact of following these diets in each case.
A fourth eating plan that is very healthy and beneficial is the DASH Diet. You can learn more about the DASH Diet by reading the blog, What is the DASH Diet? — How the DASH Diet Solved My High Blood Pressure?
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