The Mediterranean Diet is a healthy way to eat which has proven to reduce the risk of heart, brain, and chronic diseases while moving health markers in the right direction. Aside from diet, there are a few recommended lifestyle additions as well. Mediterranean people groups are physically active and eat meals communally for fellowship and camaraderie. One the main reasons this diet is so effective is due to copious amounts of fruits and vegetables consumed; plant foods are primary for good health outcomes.
The foods recommended on the Mediterranean diet include 7 – 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, wild caught seafood, eggs, poultry, healthy dairy, herbs, olive oil, nuts, beans, and whole grain breads. If alcoholism is not an issue, one glass of wine can be enjoyed daily. Red meat should be eaten infrequently. Added sugars shouldn’t be consumed; fruit is a popular dessert of choice on the Mediterranean diet. Water is preferential but unsweetened tea and coffee can be enjoyed daily as well.
What are some easy ways to incorporate the Mediterranean diet when cooking at home? One of the easiest ways is to toss a salad. Salads allow for flavor and interest with a variety of textures, herbs, nuts and other crunchy add-ins. This staple food is a good way to get the desired 7 – 10 vegetables a day. When cooking for a family, salads can be easily customized to fit individualized tastes. The base would optimally be dark, leafy greens which are packed with micro nutrients and the dressing could be an olive oil based vinaigrette.
For families cooking for kids or for Italian food fanatics, pita pizzas loaded with veggies make a delicious lunch or dinner. These are easily made by topping whole wheat pitas with tomato sauce, peppers, carrots, mushrooms, olives and even some Feta or Goat cheese to yield a healthy, filling favorite. And because wine is allowed on this diet once daily; this dish pairs nicely. Another idea is to add lots of diced and chopped vegetables into your favorite non-meat Italian dish for a twist on a proven recipe with better health and weight outcomes.
Grilled or baked salmon is a food that could be served with grilled in-season vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, or squash. Root vegetables oven roasted at a high temperature (400 degrees F for an hour) and topped with seasoning and herbs are flavorful Mediterranean fare. Any type of wild caught fish can be enjoyed twice a week on this eating plan. Canned tuna or other more easily prepared fish dishes are popular and convenient. Fried fish or fish that has been highly processed should be avoided.
Finally, breakfast is simple with eggs, unsweetened yogurt and/or oatmeal served with fruit being commonly consumed. On the Mediterranean diet, whole, plant based, healthy foods are the building blocks and premise to this way of Mediterranean eating. Try to incorporate some aspects of this healthier way of eating into your next meal.