I’m not one for fad diets, but I am a fan of effective, scientifically proven, healthy eating. No crash diets, juices, cleanses, extreme diets, or any of the like for me; give me nutrients, practicality, and a realistic model that suits my everyday life, is easily accessible, and is proven to work time and time again. Give me the Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet isn’t a fad; it’s simply a term for a diet that looks quite different from the standard American diet. It emphasizes colorful fruits and vegetables in place of candies and French fries; whole grains in place of baked potatoes and white rice; legumes and nuts in place of potato chips; healthy fats like olive oil and canola in place of margarine and butter; and herbs and spices in place of sugary sauces and salts to add flavor.
The Mediterranean diet is typically low in red meat, but fish is included regularly. General guidelines say to have red meat no more than twice per month, but in my opinion, the addition of lean, meat-based protein can be a healthy addition to this diet.
As you’re likely aware, the Mediterranean diet is associated with all kinds of health benefits, including weight loss, reduced risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, improved cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and a lower chance of heart attack and heart disease. But you’ve heard the benefits before. What you might be looking for is a way to put this diet into action! Here are a few meal ideas to help you get started!
A quick and easy Mediterranean-friendly breakfast is a bowl of Greek yogurt with some berries and nuts. Add some raspberries, blueberries, walnuts, and almonds to plain Greek yogurt for a nutritious and filling breakfast. Another quick option is to create a spread on a whole-grain bagel or ancient grain bread. You can use ricotta cheese, mashed avocado, natural nut butters, or hummus.
On the weekend, or whenever you have a little more time, you can sauté some vegetables—like zucchini, artichokes, or tomatoes—in some olive oil. Add some egg or some shrimp, and perhaps some herbs like rosemary, basil, or thyme, for a healthy and delicious brunch.
Lunch and Dinner
There are so many meal options in the Mediterranean diet. Whole-grain pasta, rice, and bread can easily be substituted in for traditional white options.
For a quick lunch that’s easy to prepare, I like to create a tuna, sundried tomato, and basil pasta. Sauté some sundried tomato and artichoke in olive oil, and then add a can of tuna. Boil your whole-grain pasta until al dente. When your pasta is ready, simply combine the items and sprinkle with some basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or feta. Sometimes, when I’m really in a rush, I just empty a can of tuna into some whole-grain pasta and add some of my homemade basil pesto!
If you’ve got a little more time and don’t want to serve canned tuna to a friend, you can opt for something like a grilled fish dish. Take some salmon, swordfish, halibut, sea bass, tilapia, or other white fish that you might prefer. In a bowl, add some fresh basil, chopped parsley, mined garlic, and lemon juice. Spray the fish with a bit of cooking spray and sprinkle with pepper, then distribute your basil-garlic mixture across the top of the fish.
Make sure the rack you’re going to cook it on is about four to six inches from the heat source, and that you’re broiling or grilling over high heat. Start by cooking it with the herbed side facing the heat; after about three or four minutes (or when the edges turn white), turn it over, reduce the heat, and continue cooking for about four more minutes. Add some lemon slices and green olives, and voila! You’ve got a delicious Mediterranean meal. Serve alongside a green salad or whole-grain rice.
For a healthy, Mediterranean-friendly snack or desserts, check out this idea for a fresh way to make a great shake! Soften some dates by sprinkling them with some water and soaking for about five minutes. Then, put the softened date in a blender, along with some cold almond milk, Greek yogurt, frozen banana slices, ice cubes (optional), and a dash or two of nutmeg. Blend until it’s nice and frothy, and serve!
Healthy Eating Made Practical and Easy
The Mediterranean diet lends itself easily to countless recipes for breakfasts, salads, mains, side dishes, snacks, and desserts. It’s a practical way to diet without ever feeling like you’re depriving yourself. In fact, you’ll likely increase your nutrient intake. If you want something that works and tastes great, give these recipes a try. There are also countless resources available with versatile recipes to make this style of eating extremely accessible.
Also Read :
- Three Small Tips to Get the Most from Your Healthy Diet
- Top Health Benefits of Eating More Vegan Meals
- DASH Diet: 20 Superfoods to Lower High Blood Pressure
Sources for Today’s Article:
Rosenthal, R.L., “Effectiveness of altering serum cholesterol levels without drugs,” Proceedings (Baylor University Medical Center) October 2000; 13(4): 351–355.
Kris-Etherton, P., et al., “Lyon Diet Heart Study,” Circulation 2001; 103: 1823–1825, doi: 10.1161/01.CIR.103.13.1823.
Salas-Salvado, J., et al., “Reduction in the Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes With the Mediterranean Diet: Results of the PREDIMED-Reus nutrition intervention randomized trial,” Diabetes Care January 2011; 34(1): 14–19.