Sailing holidays are a great way to take in new sights and sounds, experience different cultures, and of course try new foods! Whether you’re planning for meals in your boat’s galley kitchen or planning on dining gourmet, look to local food customs for inspiration on how to incorporate healthy dining habits in your sailing holiday menu.
It’s widely recognized by medical professionals worldwide that people who live in Mediterranean countries like Italy, Croatia, Greece, Spain, and Turkey are by and large some of the most heart-healthy people in the world.
What makes the Mediterranean diet a healthy – and popular – choice for heart-conscious people worldwide? And why is the Mediterranean diet worth incorporating in your sailing holiday menu? We’re breaking it down for you below with a short description of each of the main tenets of the Mediterranean diet.
One of the main tenets of the Mediterranean diet is the concept that not all fats are bad for you. “A key component is replacing saturated and trans fats—which can lead to clogged arteries and heart disease—with mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which can help lower cholesterol levels” (New England Journal of Medicine).
Heart-healthy fats include olive oil and canola oil, both found in abundant supply. Switch things up by drizzling your salads with one of these oils instead of traditional salad dressing. Use them in place of butter when cooking.
Big Benefit: Heart-healthy fats like olive oil are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which studies have shown help increase HDL cholesterol, the “good” type of cholesterol that helps filter “bad” LDL particles out of arteries.
Fish and Lean Protein
Cut out meat? Not in the Mediterranean diet! Protein is an important part of any diet, as it helps the body build and maintain healthy muscle mass. The key to wise protein consumption in the Mediterranean diet is limiting meats like beef and pork and loading up on fish and poultry.
It might seem like a direct contradition, but focus is on fatty fish with this diet. “The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel. These fish are rich in heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids” (eatinghealthy.com).
Big Benefit: According to Mayo Clinic, omega-3 fatty acids have an amazing list of healthy-improving benefits and have been shown to: lower triglycerides, decrease blood clotting, decreased the risk of sudden heart attack, improve the health of blood vessels, and help moderate blood pressure. Wow!
Many times diets feel like a restriction. Don’t eat this, don’t eat that. Instead of focusing on the “don’ts”, the Mediterranean diet is more about making good food choices and replacing less healthy ones than deprivation and cutting calories. Case in point: in the Mediterranean diet, it’s the more the merrier when it comes to fruits and veggies!
While fresh is always best (and readily available in warm climates near the sea), vegetables and fruits in any form matter. Not a huge fan of greens? Throw a handful of spinach in your morning smoothie. Don’t like raw veggies? Try steamed or baked. The options are endless, and so are the benefits to you and your family’s health!
Big Benefit: Plant-based diets have been shown to decrease high blood pressure, reduce the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes. And the extra fiber doesn’t hurt either! (Harvard School of Public Health).
It can be hard to give up fatty, salty snacks like chips and crackers – but don’t dismay! The Mediterranean diet gives you plenty of options for snack replacements, including a wide assortment of nuts and legumes.
Grabbing a handful instead of a handful of chips helps your diet be lower in empty calories and added sodium and sugars. And nuts contain more fiber and minerals, such as potassium, than processed snack foods (eatingwell.com). Just go easy – a handful a day is plenty to get the health benefit you need.
Big Benefit: Any kind of nut is fine – cashews, peanuts, pistachios, almonds, etc.! Word of caution: If you have nut allergies, steer clear.
Hate the idea of giving up bread? With the Mediterranean diet, you don’t have to! Bread is an integral part of the diets of people who live in the Mediterranean. What matters is what KIND of grains you’re eating and what you’re eating it with.
Gravitate towards whole grains and grains still in their most unprocessed form. Quinoa, barley, oatmeal, even popcorn are all whole grains. Just be careful not to negate the health benefits of whole grains by slathering on the butter or fatty spreads.
Big Benefit: Whole grains contain very few unhealthy trans fats, and the fiber they contain is important for digestive health.
A Glass A Day
Countries like Italy, France, Greece, and Spain are home to acres and acres of vineyards. Wine is a daily staple with dinner in the Mediterranean, and studies have shown that a daily glass of wine can reduce the risk of heart disease.
The key, of course, is moderation. A New England Journal of Medicine study advised women to stick to a three-ounce serving and men, a five-ounce serving, per day. And if you don’t drink alcohol, there’s no need to start now just for this diet.
Big Benefit: A study by Health Magazine showed that wine in moderation may help with weight loss, reduce forgetfulness, boost immunity, and help prevent bone loss. Cheers!
Your Sailing Holiday Menu
The Mediterranean diet focuses on smart replacements, not restrictions, cutting out the feeling of deprivation that some diets leave you with. It’s been a way of eating for centuries by the French, Spanish, Greek, Croatians and Italians – groups who are known for their amazing food.
Implementing features of the Mediterranean diet is a delicious way to take experience the local food practices of Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia and Turkey while you’re on a sailing holiday. You may even go home with some new, healthy eating habits.
Start here to plan your holidays by using our super simple booking process. We have a large offering of boats for all popular sailing destinations, suitable for all budgets and levels of comfort. Happy sailing!