During the 1960s the medical profession and many people realized the populations of Mediterranean countries, such as Greece and Italy, experienced less coronary heart disease. Subsequent studies align the region’s diet to a healthier population. The phenomenon became labeled the Mediterranean diet, which blends the traditional flavors and cooking methods of the Mediterranean with the basics of healthy eating.

The Mediterranean diet does not have one single definition, but rather it is typically high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.

As with many health regimes keeping active while also staying hydrated and maintaining a productive and vigorous lifestyle remain vital for good health. 

The diet includes these recommendations: 

  • Daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats
  • Weekly intake of fish, poultry, beans and eggs
  • Moderate portions of dairy products
  • Limited intake of red meat

Olive oil and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids (such as mackerel, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon and lake trout) appear often within recipes and have been found to lower cholesterol as well as decrease triglycerides along with the risk of stroke and heart failure.

Following the Mediterranean diet includes avoiding white bread, white pasta, and pizza dough containing white flour; canola oil and soybean oil; foods with added sugars (pastries, sodas, and candies); deli meats; hot dogs, and other processed or packaged foods.

Tasty and healthy meals might include: 

  • Two slices of whole-grain toast with soft cheese (ricotta, queso fresco or goat cheese) with added chopped blueberries or figs for sweetness
  • A whole-grain sandwich spread with hummus or avocado and filled with grilled vegetables (eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper and onion)
  • A whole-grain pizza with tomato sauce, grilled veggies, ham or shredded chicken and low-fat cheese as a topping

A wide variety of snacks can fill the void between mealtimes such as nuts, whole or dried fruits, yogurt and hummus with celery, carrots or other vegetables.  

Mediterranean diet plans abound on the internet. Or if you prefer a recipe book in hand, your online bookseller or a local library can also be great resources. Enjoy this healthy lifestyle with some very fine meals!

 

 

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Grace Aspinall
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