You may be familiar with a Mediterranean diet, which typically is rich in vegetables, fruit, beans, olive oil, nuts and fish. What do those foods offer your body? The veggies and fruit provide you with fiber, vitamins and minerals, while beans offer both fiber and protein. Olive oil and nuts are powerhouses of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which are healthy unsaturated fats, sometimes referred to as “good fats.”
To experience the Mediterranean diet for yourself, try these tips:
- Your diet should include lots of fresh vegetables, fruit and beans. You can eat fish, but limit your intake of red meat, soft drinks and sweets. You’re allowed to enjoy wine with your meal in moderate amounts if desired. Add extra virgin olive oil to salads and veggies, and nibble on a daily serving of nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds daily. Other foods that you can enjoy: Whole grains and moderate amounts of poultry and dairy.
- When it comes to olive oil, experiment with using it to make salad dressing by mixing it with herbs and vinegar. For example, try Bragg Extra Virgin Olive Oil mixed with Monari Federzoni Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. Add your favorite herbs, such as garlic and oregano, and serve over a salad made of romaine lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced red onion and chopped carrots with tuna fish, such as Crown Prince Albacore Tuna, mounded on top. Add an apple on the side for a luscious lunch!
- If you’re hoping to lose weight, be sure to keep your intake of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts to a serving a day. For example, you could enjoy 15 grams of Best of All Organic Almonds with a pear for a mid-morning snack and then 15 grams of Bob’s Red Mill Roasted Oregon Hazelnuts with a banana for a mid-afternoon snack.
- Feeling hungry? Enjoy large portions of veggies and beans to fill up on fiber and add vitamins and minerals to your diet. Try Eden Foods Organic Kidney Beans, for example, with broccoli and mushrooms for a great veggie dish.
- As with every diet, breakfast is important. A good choice on the Mediterranean diet would include fruit and whole grains. For example, you could have Arrowhead Mills Organic Instant Oatmeal with fresh peaches sliced over it. Like dairy? Try topping your cereal with a spoonful of unsweetened Greek plain yogurt and a dash of cinnamon.
Joanne Eglash, Vitacost.com’s Diet Diva, has a master of science in holistic nutrition and more than 15 years experience as a nutrition consultant, blogger, author and journalist. She has written for a wide range of publications and websites, including ediets.com,Natural Health magazine, Shape magazine, Success magazine, Energy for Women and Chefs. Joanne is currently the national Diets columnist for the online news and entertainment site, Examiner.com, and a features food columnist for Yahoo.