The Mediterranean diet is one of the most healthful diets in the world. People living in the Mediterranean region tend to eat foods that are rich in antioxidants and beneficial fats, which help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Mediterranean foods lower blood pressure, inflammation, and give anti-aging benefits. Below are some recommended foods to get you started on the Mediterranean diet.
A food pyramid of the Mediterranean diet shows bread, pastas and other whole grain foods at the base. Whole grains, such as oats and barley, have abundant fiber and help keep you feeling full longer. Since whole grains aren’t processed, they retain more of their nutrition as well.
Fruits are plentiful in the Mediterranean diet. Apples, berries, avocados, and any other fruit you like will supply vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. With its natural sweetness, fruit makes a healthy dessert or snack.
Vegetables are important to the Mediterranean way of eating. You can’t get too many vegetables, so choose a variety and buy them fresh when possible. Vegetables, such as lettuce, broccoli, tomato, onion, and spinach, give you lots of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants for health.
Beans are nutritious sources of protein and fiber in the Mediterranean diet. They are versatile and work well in hot or cold dishes. Red, white, or black beans and peas are commonly served with rice, salads and casseroles.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds have antioxidants and the type of fat that is good for your cardiovascular system. You can make a great protein snack with sunflower or pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, or other nuts.
Olive oil is a mainstay of the Mediterranean diet. It contains polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants. Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed and highest in antioxidants. You shouldn’t fry foods with extra virgin olive oil because of its low smoke point, but use it instead in salad dressings and as a dip for bread.
Fish is one of the most abundant and healthy protein sources in the Mediterranean diet. Oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon, tuna, sardines and anchovies, provide omega 3 fatty acids which are good for your heart and brain.
The Mediterranean diet makes use of poultry more often than red meat. The white meat from chicken and turkey are versatile and great sources of nutrition and protein in your diet.
If you don’t already drink wine, it’s not recommended that you start. But if you drink, consider a switch to red wine. Red wine contains an antioxidant called resveratrol, which is good for your heart. Just be sure to consume it in moderation.
When choosing foods for your Mediterranean diet, stick to plant-based foods with minimal processing. You can visit your local farm market or start a garden of your own. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water and get daily exercise.