Mediterranean diet: How to apply it in the Indian context

Mediterranean diet can be tweaked to suit various Indian culinary practices. Photo: iStock/nd3000

Often considered one of the healthiest diet choices in the world, the Mediterranean diet is a food pattern inspired by the habits of people in Spain, Italy, and Greece (Mediterranean region). Being a food choice rich with plant-based dishes, healthy fats, limited red meat, wine, and dairy in moderation, and modest consumption of poultry and fish, it is believed to have a lower risk of chronic diseases and many health benefits. Many health-conscious youngsters in our country too are giving the diet a try, these days, thanks to its easy adaptability to Indian cuisine. Indians of any region can customise the Mediterranean diet to align with their regional food, ensuring it remains practical and enjoyable. At the same time, consulting a healthcare professional before a change of diet is advisable for the best results and to avoid health issues.

Several similarities make it easy for Indians to adopt and benefit from the Mediterranean diet. Here's how:
Plant-based food choices: Just like in the Mediterranean diet, Indians also consume a variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains. We also use a lot of spices and herbs in our food for flavouring instead of too many salts.

Healthy fats: India has its own set of regionally used cooking oils, like coconut oil, mustard oil, sunflower oil, and more, just like the usage of olive oil in the Mediterranean diet. Alongside flavour enhancement and texture improvement, they also help in better nutrient absorption and provide a concentrated source of calories.

Limited red meat and dairy: This is a practice that can be easily adapted to our cuisine, even in regions that traditionally consume more red meat. For example, in regions like Kerala, where red meats like beef are often consumed, it can be easily replaced with fish, poultry, or plant-based protein sources if keen to follow a Mediterranean diet. Indian food also includes a moderate inclusion of dairy products like paneer, yoghurt, and the like.

Whole grains: Both diets promote the consumption of whole grains. In Indian cuisine, this can include staples like rice, whole wheat, millet, and other traditional grains of various regions.  

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