The Mediterranean Way

February 18, 2009

When I hear from clients, “ Bread and pasta are bad” or “I try not to eat any fat to stay healthy”, I often wonder where these common misconceptions came from. Ironically, the core of one of the healthiest diets on the planet- the “Mediterranean diet”- includes staples that are the exact opposite of what many people in this country believe not to be healthy (example: bread and pasta)! The key components of the Mediterranean diet include:

Healthy fats– Instead of limiting fat, the Mediterranean diet encourages liberal amounts of healthy fats- olive and canola oil, nuts, avocados, and olives; and limits animal fats and fats from processed foods. Instead of spreading butter on bread, Mediterranean people dip bread in olive oil.

Eating an abundant amount of fruits and vegetables- Similar to other healthy eating regimes, fruits and vegetables should be consumed several times throughout the day. Mediterranean people often eat fruit for dessert instead of high fat and sugar treats.

Eating whole grains and legumes- Mediterranean people eat whole grain bread, pasta, potatoes, polenta, rice, couscous, and beans or legumes at each meal. These foods are full of fiber and nutrients, low in fat and are a rich source of energy!

More fish, little red meat- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout) contain omega-3’s that promote heart health are encouraged over red meat and other high fat animal products.

Low fat dairy products- milk, yogurt, cheese

Drinking red wine in moderation– Small amounts of wine (about 3 ounces per day) are usually consumed with dinner and are associated with lower rates of heart disease.

Eating plenty of fresh, local and seasonal foods over processed foods.

Research shows that those who follow the Mediterranean diet tend to have:
Lower body weight, blood pressure, blood fats, blood sugar and possibly a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

One Day Sample Mediterranean Menu

Breakfast
Pita bread, feta cheese, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes
Coffee

Lunch-
Lentil Soup
Vegetable salad with olive oil
Pita bread

Dinner-
Grilled Tuna Fish
Grilled vegetables- eggplant, zucchini, squash, bell peppers
Couscous
Fruit salad
Red wine

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