Over the last couple of decades, the Mediterranean diet has been studied by researchers all over the world. The general consensus from these studies revealed that the diet is nothing short of amazing. The Mediterranean diet consists of increasing your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains and fish, while limiting red meat and sweets. So, why has this diet become so popular? Maybe because it’s flexible and offers users ease of compliance. Maybe it’s because Mediterranean food is delicious and the diet allows users to drink red wine in moderation. Or, maybe it’s because all of the research over the past couple of decades shows an incredible amount of health benefits. One meta-analysis article showed that greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with significant improvement in overall health status.
Benefits of a Mediterranean diet to consider:
- Prevention of major chronic diseases
- Improved quality of life
- Reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and obesity
- Reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and cancer
- Low in processed foods and sugar
- May help to lose or maintain a healthier weight
- May improve mood and decrease depression
- Naturally low-glycemic foods, which may help control blood sugar
Key components of the Mediterranean diet
Base every meal on these foods and eat them daily:
- Legumes and Beans: chickpeas, lentils, and fava beans
- Olives and Olive Oil: extra virgin olive oil is preferred
- Whole grains and whole wheat pasta
- Nuts: cashews, almonds and sesame seeds
- Vegetables such as leafy greens, garlic, onion and other non-starchy veggies like eggplant cauliflower, artichokes and tomatoes
- Fresh organic fruits such as grapes, apples, strawberries and avocados
Eat these at least two times per week:
- Fish (wild caught preferred) and seafood
In moderate portions (daily to weekly):
- Low-fat cheese & yogurt
Eat these a few times per month in small amounts:
Organic Mediterranean bean salad recipe
◦ 15 ounce can of dark red kidney beans drained and rinsed
◦ 15 ounce can of fava beans drained and rinsed
◦ 15 ounce can of black beans drained and rinsed
◦ 1 cup of organic corn
◦ 1 large organic tomato, chopped
◦ 1 small organic red onion, chopped
◦ 1 avocado, sliced
◦ ½ organic cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped.
◦ 1 cup of organic parsley, chopped.
◦ ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
◦ 1 lemon, freshly squeezed
◦ 2 garlic cloves, minced
◦ ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
◦ ½ teaspoon of cumin
◦ salt and pepper to taste.
- In large mixing bowl, combine kidney beans, fava beans, black beans, corn, tomato, onion, cucumber and parsley. Mix well.
- In a separate bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, apple cider vinegar, cumin, salt and pepper and whisk.
- Pour dressing over salad and gently toss together.
Other helpful information:
- On top of diet, the Mediterranean lifestyle encourages individuals to be physically active and enjoy meals in a relaxing environment with others vs. on the go. Try to set aside time to sit down and enjoy your meals.
- Most of the foods found in the Mediterranean diet can be found on the perimeter of the grocery store.
- Eat fruits and vegetables that vary in choice of colors as each color has specific properties and nutrients.
- Replace butter and margarine with healthy, unrefined oils as often as possible.
- The Mediterranean diet has broad definitions since there are many countries around the Mediterranean Sea.
- In summary, the diet should focus on vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, legumes and whole grains. Enjoy fresh, wild caught fish and seafood, while limiting poultry, eggs and cheese. Rarely eat red meat and avoid sugar.