The seasons are changing, and your eating habits probably are too! With the weather warming up chances are that you are looking for things to eat that are less heavy, not as warming and are easier to make. A Mediterranean diet is your best option for all your summer food!
Mediterranean diets focus on healthy eating and is extremely plant-based. The main ingredients are fruits, vegetables, olive oil, fish, whole grains, and red wine! (Yes, a diet that still lets you drink red wine).
Some of the benefits of a Mediterranean diet include weight loss, heart attack prevention, stroke prevention, type 2 diabetes prevention and preventing an early death.
Fruits and Vegetables
The first step to a Mediterranean diet is making sure that most of your meals are derived from plant-based foods – fruits and vegetables. The recommended vegetables to add to your diet includes tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots and cucumbers. The fruits you should add include apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates and melons.
You should make sure that you have 10 servings a day of fruits and vegetables. This may seem like a lot but once you get replace other unhealthy foods with fruits and vegetables, 10 servings will seem like a breeze. Instead of snacking on chips, snack on berries; replace your large portion of meat with a large portion of vegetables.
Here is an example of 10 servings of fruits and vegetables:
Another important aspect of a Mediterranean diet is switching to whole grains. This includes ditching white bread and white rice, opting instead for whole-grain bread and brown rice. Other changes include whole-grain pasta, whole oats, whole grain cereal, and choosing rye, barley and corn.
A Mediterranean diet also involves eating a small portion of nuts per day. Nuts are beneficial as they decrease blood clotting, decrease your chance of heart attacks and help you moderate your blood pressure.
Nuts that are good for a quick snack include cashews, almonds, walnuts and pistachios. However, nuts are very high in calories so you should only have a small handful a day and avoid nuts that are coated in candy or honey or are heavily salted.
The Mediterranean Diet is about choosing healthy fats instead of saturated fats and hydrogenated oils. This helps decrease the risk of heart disease. One of the main aspects of this is switching from butter to olive oil and canola oil. Additionally, olives, avocados and avocado oil are also a healthy fat option.
A Mediterranean diet also focuses on limiting your red meat intake. If you eat red meat make sure it is in moderation and small portions. Instead you should be substituting it with fish. The best fish to eat is fatty fishes such as mackerel, lake trout, tuna and salmon. Make sure your fish is grilled and not fried. It is recommended to eat fish at least twice a week.
Following a Mediterranean diet doesn’t mean you have to give dairy – just swap for low-fat options instead. Go for skim milk, fat-free yogurt (Greek yogurt is a good option) and low-fat cheese.
Herbs and Spices
Reduce your sodium intake with the Mediterranean diet. Season your food with herbs and spices instead of using salt for many health benefits. Some of the best herbs to go for are garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Another part of the Mediterranean diet includes red wine in moderation. This is because it has been proven to be associated with reduced heart disease risk. The recommended amount is about one glass a day – preferably with dinner. However, if there is a history of liver disease or you don’t drink alcohol the alternative is purple grape juice.
Some breakfast options that you can choose from for a Mediterranean diet include yogurt with fruit and whole oats, vegetable omelette, or oatmeal with raisins and nuts.
Your lunch may include wholegrain salad sandwiches, tuna salad, or Greek yogurt and strawberries and nuts.
Finally, for dinner you might have a Greek salad, Mediterranean lasagne, salmon with brown rice and vegetables or a whole wheat vegetable pizza.