In case you weren’t already aware, May 1st marks the start of International Mediterranean Diet month (honestly, we didn’t know much about it either…).
But, after some in depth research about this allusive international celebration, I’ve come to the realization that this slightly obscure month could be a point of interest for uni students, both financially and healthcare-wise. 2018 also marks the 25th anniversary of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid inspired by Oldways, the health and cultural food traditions specialists.
What is the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid?
“In a partnership with the Harvard School of Public Health, Oldways created the ﬁrst Mediterranean Diet Pyramid in 1993 using the most current nutrition research to represent a healthy, traditional Med Diet. It was based on the dietary traditions of Crete, Greece, and southern Italy circa 1960, a time when the rates of chronic disease among these populations were among the lowest in the world, and adult life expectancy was among the highest—even though medical services were limited.” (https://oldwayspt.org/blog/may-international-mediterranean-diet-month)
Why is a Mediterranean diet good for you?
According to Oldways:
“Among many other things, the Mediterranean Diet is linked with:
- Signiﬁcantly less plaque buildup in arteries
- 38% lower risk of frailty in older adults (60+)
- 30% lower risk of heart disease, and signiﬁcantly lower risk of stroke in high-risk patients”
Why is this diet important for students?
Well for starters, it’s loads healthier than a Tesco-basics frozen pizza, or that weekly takeaway that you decide to splash your loan on (oops). Likewise, studying when you’re not eating the right brain foods will make you feel really lethargic, and will effect your ability to concentrate for long periods of time. There’s no fear of this happening with a Mediterranean-style diet. The biggest platform on the food pyramid is fruit, veg, grains and olive oil, which will all keep your brain super active. It will also benefit you if you’re trying to lose weight or clear up
The diet plan also stresses drinking loads of water, which is key to a much healthier mind and body too. According to a study by the RNLI, “89% of the population is not drinking enough water to maintain healthy hydration levels”. (http://www.naturalhydrationcouncil.org.uk/press/how-hydrated-is-britain/) So you can see how easy it is to forget to drink enough! Luckily if you’re a fan of alcohol, you’ll still be able to drink; Mediterraneans love their red wine, and experts have concluded that it’s actually heart-healthy. Certain antioxidants in red wine can help prevent coronary heart disease, so feel free to have a glass or two with your meal.
Your wallet will be lighter!
The basis of the Mediterranean diet being fruit, veg, grains, white meat and fish means that it’s actually quite cheap. Definitely a lot less expensive than buying ready meals too, or fully branded products as and when you need them. Fruit and veg are ridiculously low-cost, especially from places like Aldi and Lidl. Freeze them in meals to last even longer! Tinned fish isn’t really too pricey either, and lasts for ages in cupboards so its a good go-to ingredient. And although white meat such as chicken can be more expensive in some places, its recommended that you bulk buy when on offer and then freeze the remaining meat to use for another time. Before you know it, you’ll have enough food in the kitchen to keep you going for a month!
So what meals can I cook on this diet?
Quite a few, actually! It only takes a quick internet search to come up with hundreds of results. We’ve listed some of our favourites below:
Chicken and Mediterranean veg:
- You’ll need chicken breasts, tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, mushrooms or aubergines, onions, paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander (or mixed Italian herbs), salt, black pepper, and olive oil
- Find the full recipe here: https://studenteats.co.uk/recipes/mains/chicken-and-mediterranean-veg-recipe-4202.html
Spiced potato cakes with tomato sauce
- You’ll need potatoes, chilli, cumin, paprika, tumeric, lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper, olive oil, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, and spinach
- Find the full recipe here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/healthy-recipes/11513940/Deliciously-Ella-spiced-potato-cakes-with-tomato-sauce-recipe.html
Greek-style stuffed peppers
- You’ll need large red peppers, couscous, olive oil, large tomatoes, red onion, garlic, black olives, mint or parsley, lemon juice, and feta cheese
- Find the full recipe here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/recipes/11511140/Greek-style-stuffed-red-peppers-recipe.html
- Cooking chorizo sausage, basmati rice, chopped tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, paprika, stock, bay leaves, lemon, and parsley (optional)
- Find the full recipe here: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2195654/chorizo-pilaf