What is the Mediterranean diet and how can you start eating one of the healthiest diets in the world? First and foremost, the Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil. It features fish and poultry — lean sources of protein — over red meat. In addition, red wine is consumed regularly but only in moderate amounts.
Research suggests that the benefits of following recipes from a Mediterranean diet book may be many, including improved weight loss, better control of blood glucose (sugar) levels and lowered risk of depression – to name a few.
Eating just like those in the Mediterranean do has also been linked with a reduction in levels of inflammation, a risk factor for heart attack, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
If the idea of changing your entire diet and shopping to reflect that change seems a bit daunting, you can start small. Wiping the slate entirely clean may not be needed. Instead, take small steps toward eating more in the Mediterranean-style. Choose one of the strategies we’ll be showing you below:
Change Your Oil
If you’ve been cooking with the use of vegetable or coconut oil, you may want to make the switch to extra-virgin olive oil. Olive oil is rich is monounsaturated fatty acids which may help improve HDL cholesterol, the “good” type of cholesterol.
HDL cholesterol ferries “bad” LDL particles out of the arteries, according to a 2017 study. The use of olive oil in homemade salad dressings and vinaigrettes is a must-try. You can also drizzle it on finished dishes such as fish or chicken to help boost flavor. You can also swap butter for olive oil in mashed potatoes, pasta and more.
Consume More Fish
Fish is considered the go-to protein in the Mediterranean diet. This diet puts emphasis on fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel. These fish are rich in heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Even those fish that are leaner and have less fat (such as cod) are still worth trying, as they help provide a good source of protein.
If you currently don’t get a lot of fish in your diet, an easy point of entry is to designate one day every week as “fish” night.
Consume More Whole Grains
You can freely experiment with “real” whole grains that are still in their “whole” form and haven’t been refined. For example, quinoa can be cooked up in just 20 minutes, making it a great side dish. Barley is full of fiber and it’s filling; pair it with mushrooms for a steamy, satisfying soup.
Remember that you need to supplement your intake with other whole-grain products, such as whole-wheat bread and pasta. Always look for the term “whole” or “whole grain” on the label when buying your grains. If you still find it hard to make a switch, you can always mix half whole-wheat with the refined kind.
Eating like a Mediterranean is as much about lifestyle as it is about dieting, and it can also be used to help better yourself. You can look for Mediterranean diet recipes for weight loss, for improving of heart health ad so much more. Just remember to stick to the proper portions rather than overdo it, since too much of something can still be bad for you.