7 Ways to Embrace the Mediterranean Diet
While the Mediterranean Diet reflects various eating traditions in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, no travel abroad is necessary to enjoy this healthful eating style. The Mediterranean Diet isn’t a quick-fix diet; it’s a lifestyle eating pattern that emphasizes plant-based, nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and oils. This style of eating has been studied for its health benefits. From longevity and improved brain and heart health, to protection from chronic diseases, there are plenty of reasons to try to incorporate more Mediterranean-style meals into your diet. Use our simple tips to make Mediterranean-style swaps and reap the benefits during May, Mediterranean Diet Month, and year-round!
1. Put Flavor First
Flavor is the star of Mediterranean-inspired meals. Brighten foods with fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbs that add acidity, Mediterranean flair and make delicious seasoning blends.
2. Change Your Meat Perspective
The typical American dinner plate presents protein as the main event. To embrace Mediterranean-style eating, flip the menu script. Consume larger portions of vegetables and whole grains and think of meat as a side dish instead of the focus. Making simple swaps, like seafood instead of red meat, is a great way to gradually make this healthy shift.
3. Eat Seafood Twice a Week
Rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats that can help reduce inflammation, seafood provides brain and heart health benefits. The American Heart Association recommends eating oily fish twice a week to receive maximum benefits. Keep your plate exciting with a variety of fish, including salmon and tuna, and remember that frozen, canned and pouch forms count, too.
4. Switch to Whole Grains
Whole grains are rich in vitamin B and fiber, keeping you feeling fuller longer. Incorporate more whole grains into everyday meals with different varieties like quinoa, barley, farro and wheat berries.
5. Choose Healthy Fats
Incorporating more healthy fats, also called unsaturated fats, may help to lower cholesterol and triglycerides, which in turn can promote heart health. Avocados, nuts, seeds and plant oils such as olive and canola are all sources of healthy fats.
6. Cook One Vegetarian Meal Each Week
Produce is an essential part of the Mediterranean eating style. Going meatless once or twice a week allows you to increase your fruit and veggie intake while flexing your culinary creativity. Fresh, frozen, and canned produce, whole grains, herbs and spices can be combined to try new plant-based meals. Try no salt added canned beans or cooked lentils as a plant-based protein source in your next meal.
7. Enjoy Dairy in Moderate Amounts
Include a modest amount of milk and cheese and incorporate probiotic and calcium-rich Greek or plain yogurt into meals and snacks.