Ready to eat the “Mediterranean Way”? You don’t have to travel further than your local supermarket to enjoy the delicious ﬂavors of this healthy eating style. Inspired by the cuisine found along the Mediterranean Sea, this flavorful diet includes fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, legumes, fish, low-fat dairy products, and lean meat. But it’s not just a diet; eating like a Sicilian also encourages you to savor your food in the company of friends.
The “Mediterranean Way” of eating rose to popularity because of its many health benefits, including chronic disease prevention. Studies show that the Mediterranean Diet reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and type 2 diabetes. It can also reduce the risk of obesity through weight loss.
To get started, incorporate one or two of these ten strategies into your lifestyle.
- Eat more fruits and veggies. Consume 3-4 pieces of fruit per day by eating whole, unsweetened fresh fruits for snacks and dessert, or adding them to salads. Eat salads with every main meal. And add vegetables to your favorite chili, soups and casserole recipes, or on top of fish.
- Switch to olive oil, the principal fat in this plan. Use extra-virgin olive oil for salad dressings but “dress, don’t drown” your salad. Each tablespoonful contains 124 calories, which adds up quickly. Eat olives whole, or use in cooking to flavor dishes.
- Choose seafood at least 2 times per week as main-dish protein sources. Tuna, herring, sardines, salmon, mussels, clams, and shrimp are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fats.
- Consume small portions of meat, like lean beef and poultry, which are low in unhealthy saturated fats. Eat high-quality protein eggs, regularly in place of meat.
- Eat 100% whole grain breads with main meals (except with pasta), and have whole wheat pasta 2-3 times a week. Be adventurous! Try a new whole grain like farro or quinoa as a side dish at dinner, in a salad, or with chopped vegetables for lunch. Whole grains are high in health-promoting vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
- Munch on a handful of nuts, like almonds, walnuts or pistachios. Or add pumpkin and sesame seeds to boost fiber, protein, healthy fats and texture in your go-to dishes.
- Eat legumes, dried beans, lentils, or chick peas 2-3 times a week. These protein and fiber powerhouse foods are great in soups, salads and casseroles.
- Spice it up with fresh or dried spices and herbs instead of salt, and season food with citrus and dried chilies. Fennel seeds, oregano and nutmeg add flavors and aroma to foods and healthy antioxidants in the diet.
- Consume low-fat dairy foods, like cheese and yogurt, in moderate amounts for good bone and heart health.
- Savor your food. Turn off your TV, laptops, and iPads, and taste each bite. Relax and enjoy your meals with others.
Ready to go shopping? Take this Mediterranean Diet shopping list on your next trip to the supermarket.
Zesty Quinoa Salad
Prep time: 30 minutes Servings: 6 (1/2 cup)
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 limes, juiced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1.5 cups cherry tomato halved
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained & rinsed
5 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Pepper to taste
- Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender and water is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool.
- Whisk olive oil, lime juice, cumin, salt and red pepper flakes together in a bowl.
- Combine quinoa, tomatoes, black beans and green onions in a bowl. Pour dressing over quinoa mixture; toss to coat. Stir in cilantro; season with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately or chill in refrigerator.
Nutrition Facts – Amount Per Serving, ½ cup
Total Fat 11.1g
Saturated Fat .5g
Total Carbohydrates 37.3g
Dietary Fiber 9.5g
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