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5 Easy Ways to Eat the Mediterranean Way

Fish, vegetables & olive oil, an important part of the Mediterranean Diet

 

So you heard about the amazing health benefits of the Mediterranean diet and are thinking about trying it, but you’re unsure how to start. You think pasta, pizza and wine are the pillars of the Mediterranean diet.

Hey, there's even room for those foods in moderation. Here are 5 simple ways you can get started on eating more like a Mediterranean local.

  1. Switch to Olive Oil

  2. Make Half Your Plate Produce

  3. An Apple A Day…

  4. Choose Lean Meats

  5. Avoid Processed Foods

 

Switch to Olive Oil

Olive oil is liquid gold to the Mediterranean people. It is the foundation of the Mediterranean diet because it offers many health benefits from its high proportion of monounsaturated (heart-healthy) fats and antioxidants from polyphenols. Studies show that cooking with and eating olive oil instead of other fats like butter, coconut oil, corn oil, and shortening can seriously decrease your risk of heart disease, reduce overall inflammation, and prevent premature aging and disease. In the Mediterranean, almost all dishes are prepared with olive oil.

Make Half Your Plate Produce

One of the main reasons the Mediterranean diet is so beneficial is that it is a plant-based diet. It’s not a vegan diet, but vegetables and legumes are the stars of each dish. Fill up your plate with vegetables of all kinds, the more the better! Cooked or raw, preferably with olive oil. The reason why Mediterranean vegetable recipes are so popular and abundant is because they are prepared with lots of herbs, spices, and olive oil, which make the vegetables more delicious. Aim for 6 different colors of produce a day (eat the rainbow!) to get a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

An Apple A Day…

Fruit is also a staple of the Mediterranean diet. A common breakfast in the Mediterranean often includes fresh fruit that is in-season, a little cheese or yogurt, and fresh bread with honey. Eat the fruit whole instead of juiced, you’ll reap all the benefits of the gut-friendly fiber like weight maintenance, feeling full for longer, and regularity. Eating fruit in season also ensures you’re getting more flavor and nutrition.

Choose Lean Meats

The traditional Mediterranean diet treats protein foods as a side dish rather than the main entree. Eggs, beans, nuts, cheese, yogurt, chicken, and seafood are the main protein sources in the Mediterranean. When choosing meat, go for chicken, turkey, lean beef or bison without a lot of marbling, and any kind of shellfish or fish. Leaner cuts of meat ensure that you are getting all the high-quality protein without the saturated fats.

Avoid Processed Foods

Easier said than done. But the key word is “avoid,” not “eliminate.” Things like chips, sodas, cookies, muffins are all fine in moderation, but it is best for your heart health to not make them a staple food. These foods make up very little to none of the traditional Mediterranean diet, or are saved for special occasions.

 

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