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Make it Mediterranean: Health Benefits of Mediterranean Style Eating
The Mediterranean (Med) Diet reflects a way of eating, based on the traditional cuisine of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. It is not a single diet, rather it is an eating style. In fact, it is one of the healthy eating plans recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to promote health and prevent chronic disease.
Health Benefits of Med-Style Eating
Research on the health benefits of a Med eating pattern date back to the 1950’s, with findings supporting this style of eating as a heart healthy diet.
Subsequent studies and increasing evidence suggest that the Med eating pattern could counter diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, pulmonary diseases and cognition disorders.
This eating pattern may also reduce chronic inflammation, total cholesterol, LDL– cholesterol and triglycerides, along with lowering blood pressure. As a result it can decrease the risk of stroke and heart disease.
With all these health benefits, why not give it a try!
Simple Steps for Eating the Med Way
Embracing the Med-style eating is easy, versatile and affordable.
- Eat lots of vegetables – include a variety of colorful vegetables every day.
- Choose whole grains – traditional grains are bulgur, barley, farro and red rice.
- Opt for seafood 2x a week – have tuna, herring, salmon, sardines and shellfish.
- Enjoy some dairy – try Greek or plain yogurt and small amounts of a variety of cheeses. Use cheese as a garnish for salads and vegetables.
- Use healthy fats – especially olive oil, avocados and olives. Sprinkle nuts on salads or yogurt to add flavor and crunch.
- Have fresh fruit for dessert – from oranges to pomegranates, fresh figs, grapes and apples. Add small amounts of grated lemon or orange rind to salads.
- Use fresh herbs & spices instead of salt – mint, basil, rosemary, parsley, garlic, tarragon and thyme to add flavor!
- If you eat meat, have smaller portions and be sure it is lean.
- Try a vegetarian meal 1x week – build meals around beans, vegetables and whole grains. Add herbs and spices to enhance the flavor.
Med-style eating blends the basics of a healthy eating pattern with foods and flavors of the Mediterranean. Meals are built around plant-based foods and the main components are:
- 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
Other key elements are sharing meals with family and friends and being physically active.
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