Are you still looking for a healthy eating pattern that can lower risk of disease, give you energy and may even help you live longer? It might be time to look at the Mediterranean diet. This way of eating (and way of life) that incorporates so many of the healthiest and most powerful foods is often in the spotlight for its health benefits.
Studies have linked this diet to reducing risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, help cognitive function and counter some of the effects of aging.
What’s so good about the Mediterranean diet is that it is full of delicious, whole foods that work together to keep you healthy. It doesn’t single out any one food but it does emphasize foods that are easy to find, easy to enjoy and are so much more beneficial and easier to stick with than following a diet that is full of don’t and foods to avoid. And, it appears to be the mixture of all the components of these nutrient rich foods that give the health benefits.
Mediterranean Diet Highlights:
- Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pasta, beans and legumes, herbs and spices are part of your daily routine.
- Fish and seafood are suggested as healthy proteins to be eaten moderately
- Olive oil, nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts) provide delicious heart healthy fats.
- Cheese and yogurt are eaten regularly but in low to moderate amounts.
- The traditional diet is low in saturated fats and trans fats.
- Flavor is enhanced by eating antioxidant rich herbs and spices.
- People who live around the Mediterranean also drink wine which, in moderation, has also been shown to have some heart healthy benefits.
Are you convinced yet? Why not start your Mediterranean journey with a few simple steps.
- Replace a few meat meals with fish or a plant based entrée made from beans or lentils.
- Change your dinner plate so that vegetables cover at least half.
- Try adding chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans or black beans to salads, pasta sauces or make them in a dip. If using canned, rinse them first to reduce the sodium.
- Make a lentil salad for your next picnic/barbecue/cottage meal. Add some cut up peppers, tomatoes, onions, fresh herbs and finish it with a dash of olive oil. You can also put the salad into a whole wheat pita for a vegetarian lunch.
- Replace a snack of chips or crackers with a handful of nuts and a piece of fresh fruit.
- Dress your salad or roasted vegetables with olive oil and enhance the flavor even more with herbs and spices.
- Try a new whole grain – barley, buckwheat, bulgur or faro. Start your morning with a bowl of oatmeal topped with berries or other seasonal fruit.
- Make a smoothie of low fat yogurt and fruit for a refreshing summer drink.