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The Mediterranean-Pyramid and Your Sports Nutrition Plan

Posted by Elizebath Bijoy Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What is the Mediterranean Pyramid? 
The Mediterranean-Pyramid is another variation of the Food Guide Pyramid that can be helpful when considering what foods you should include in your sports nutrition plan. This Pyramid looks similar to the "old" food pyramid prior to MyPyramid. 

What are the benefits of the Mediterranean Pyramid?

This Pyramid recommends a daily intake of grains such as breads, rice, couscous, and bulgur; vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, and nuts as well as cheese and yogurt. This makes the diet rich in fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. 

Meats, eggs, and sweets are only eaten a few times per week, so an individual following this food pyramid would be consuming a diet low in saturated fat. 

Olive oil is the predominant fat used in cooking in this pyramid, so the Mediterranean-Pyramid is high in monounsaturated fats. 

How is the Mediterranean-Pyramid different than MyPyramid?
Unlike MyPyramid; fish, poultry, and eggs are eaten only a few times per week as opposed to 5-6 ounces every day, and red meat is only eaten a few times per month. In place of daily servings from the "meat group," the Mediterranean Diet emphasizes beans, nuts, and seeds to be eaten daily. Surprisingly the Mediterranean Diet is actually higher in fat than the dietary fat recommendations made in the United States. However, the 40% of energy from fat which this diet provides is comprised of unsaturated fats coming from oils as opposed to the animal fats common in popular American diets. Europeans in the Mediterranean region who follow this diet actually experience lower rates of cardiovascular disease compared to rates in the U.S. 

How can I use the Mediterranean Pyramid?
The Mediterranean Pyramid could be helpful for you if vegetarian diets appeal to you, but you do not want to cut meat completely out of your diet. It could also help you in increasing your fiber intake, as fiber-rich grains, fruits, veggies, beans and nuts/seeds are consumed on a daily basis. The diet has been found to decrease cholesterol and lower risk of some cancers, so there is one more reason to not disregard it! This pyramid is just another way to look at proper nutrition to fuel your body. Like any food plan should, it includes a variety of foods and can help you select foods to include in your sports nutrition plan.


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