Mediterranean Diet: What is it and How Can it Improve Health?

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Vegetables

There are no restrictions when it comes to eating plants in the Mediterranean Diet and a way we can increase our intake of plants is by making the base of our meals from these foods. Examples of how we can do this are to try and have a salad for one meal out of the day, fill half of our plates with non-starchy vegetables for one meal, such as cauliflower, parsnips, zucchini, or cucumber or try to eat one meatless meal per week to making plants the main course.

Grains

When choosing grains, do your best to pick whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, barley, farro or wild rice. Whole grains provide more fiber and can help you stay full longer. Make sure you choose those grains that are made with whole grain flour.

Heart Healthy Fats

The Mediterranean Diet also has an emphasis on eating heart healthy fats. We have been told for a long time that fat is bad for us, but we now know good fats our important to our health. The Mediterranean Diet encourages eating unsaturated, heart healthy fats on a daily basis. We can get these from fish, nuts/seeds, avocados and olive oil.

Protein

Protein is included in this diet but the focus should be on lean proteins such as fish, seafood, turkey and chicken. Very limited intake of red meat is recommended, just once or twice a month. When eating meat, try to aim for smaller portions and keep the serving size around 3 oz. For flavoring your foods, instead of adding salt, use herbs and spices which can add a variety of delicious flavors without adding any extra sodium. When eating dairy products, choose low fat or fat free options.

Beverages

When it comes to beverages, choose water the large majority of the time and avoid soda or juices. Alcohol can be included when eating a Mediterranean Diet but choose red wine and limit drinks to 1 per day or even less.

Sugar

Sugar cravings are bound to happen but desserts and sweets are not a staple on the Mediterranean Diet. Instead of eating a daily bowl of ice cream or a cookie, save those desserts and sweets for special celebrations and focus on eating a fresh fruit for dessert to satisfy those sugar cravings on a day-to-day basis.

Overall, the Mediterranean Diet will not only improve the quality of the foods we are eating, but it can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

To learn more about the Mediterranean Diet or to meet with a Registered Dietician, call the LiVe Well Center at (435) 333-3535 to schedule an appointment. You can learn more about the LiVe Well Center by visiting our website and click HERE to read more about the Mediterranean Diet.