2019's Best Nutrition: The Mediterranean Diet
Image Credit: Reader’s Digest

Image Credit: Reader’s Digest

When people hear the word diet they often think of “lose weight”, but a diet is just a certain way of eating. It’s about being mindful of what types of food you’re consuming. The Mediterranean diet is simply a balanced way to eat healthy every day.

Inspired by the eating habits in Greece, Italy, and Spain, the Mediterranean diet is great for improving and sustaining overall health. It’s widely accepted, and backed by quite a few studies, that people in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea live longer than, and experience cancer and cardiovascular disease much less than most Americans. Of course, the people of these countries eat different than their neighbors, they do share many of the same principles when it comes to nutrition.

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Basics Of Eating The Mediterranean Way

The Mediterranean diet not only involves healthy eating, it also includes regular physical activity, sharing meals with other people and enjoying life. In reference to the food, here are the basics:

  • Eat: Vegetables, nuts fruits, seeds, potatoes, whole grains, legumes, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil.

  • Eat In Moderation: Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt.

  • Rarely Eat: Red meat.

  • Exercise Daily: Go for a walk, hike, workout, or do yoga.

  • Don't Eat: Sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods.

  • Optional: A glass of wine.

What To Avoid

You should do your best to avoid consuming these unhealthy foods and ingredients:

  • Added Sugar: Candy, soda, ice cream, sugar etc.

  • Highly Processed Foods: Microwave meals, and basically anything that was produced in a factory.

  • Trans Fats: Found in butter and various processed foods.

  • Processed Meat: Processed hot dogs, sausages, etc.

  • Refined Grains: White bread, pasta made with refined wheat, etc.

  • Refined Oils: Canola oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, etc.

The exact foods that are a part of the Mediterranean diet can be controversial, mostly because there is such variation between different countries. The overall diet examined by many studies is high in healthy plant foods and relatively low in animal foods.

It is recommended that you eat seafood and fish at least twice a week.

What To Eat

You should base your diet on these unprocessed, healthy Mediterranean foods:

  • Vegetables: Tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, etc.

  • Fish and seafood: Salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, shrimp, crab, oysters, clams, mussels, etc.

  • Fruits: Strawberries. bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, pears, peaches, melons, etc.

  • Whole grains: Past, rye, whole wheat, whole oats, brown rice, corn, barley, and whole-grain bread.

  • Poultry: Chicken, turkey, duck, etc.

  • Nuts and seeds: Cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, etc.

  • Legumes: Peas, beans, peanuts, etc.

  • Eggs: Chicken, quail and duck eggs

  • Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, etc.

  • Dairy: Greek yogurt, cheese, etc.

  • Herbs and spices: Garlic, pepper, mint, basil, rosemary, nutmeg, sage, cinnamon, etc.

  • Healthy Fats: Extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados and avocado oil.

What To Drink

The main drink for the Mediterranean diet is water. However, coffee, tea, and even wine is acceptable in moderate amounts.

Related: 7 Popular Mediterranean Recipes To Try: Healthy Eating

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