Mediterranean cuisine is celebrated in May, and with good reason, according to Kathy Wehrle, RDN, community outreach dietician. She shares more on the benefits of filling your plates with this smart fare.
This style of eating is one of the healthiest, tastiest and easiest to enjoy – a trifecta! The hallmark of Mediterranean eating is freshly cooked, plant-rich meals enjoyed in the company of friends and family. Seasonal produce is consumed in abundance and rounded out with grains, beans, herbs, spices, nuts and olive oil. Fish is eaten several times a week and yogurt, cheese, poultry and eggs are eaten in reasonable portion sizes. Wine is used in moderation.
Research has been mounting for decades on the health benefits of eating Mediterranean. Year after year, the studies still pour in touting its virtues. This diet can help you lower heart disease risk and high blood pressure, and reduce your risk for diabetes and asthma. Some studies show it can help you achieve weight loss, resist depression and fight certain cancers. It can even help nurture healthier babies. This eating style is so important and worth of our attention that our government has included it in the new US Dietary Guidelines for 2015-2020, under ‘Mediterranean style’ healthy eating pattern.
Give Mediterranean eating a try by:
- Filling up half your plate with vegetables. Try more stunning salads, veggie combination sautés, nutritious soups, roasted vegetables or veggie-studded pizzas.
- Re-think that meat. Have smaller amounts of meat and better yet, try to eat vegetarian more often - at least a few times during the week.
- Getting to know seafood. Include salmon, tuna or shellfish on that grocery list and consume twice a week.
- Use good fats such as extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, olives or avocados.
- Switch to whole ‘intact’ grains such as barley, bulgur, faro or black or red rice.
- Enjoy some dairy, such as Greek or plain yogurt, and a smaller amount of a variety of cheeses.
- Eat fruit for dessert instead of ice cream, cookies or candy. Save these for very special occasions.
- Eat with your family and really dine! Enjoy and savor your food slowly among good conversation. No family around? Invite neighbors and friends to join your meal and experience the fresh and delicious flavors of the Mediterranean.
Ready to try it?
Kathy pulled some of her favorite recipes from Pinterest so you can start incorporating this healthful cuisine into your weekly repertoire.
Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes
from Minimalist Baker
Lentils Folded into Spinach, Yogurt and Basil
Quinoa Greek Salad
from Simply Recipes