Over the past several years, the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has always ranked “Best Overall Diet” by the U.S News & World Report. But, for the first time ever, the Mediterranean diet has tied for first place!
What I LOVE most about the Mediterranean diet, is that it isn’t a diet! It is a healthy eating pattern that allows for flexibility, plus you don’t have to cut out food groups or purchase any expensive pills, meals, or shakes. While it would be nice to go sail the Mediterranean Sea, you don’t have to physically live there to practice this lifestyle and reap the heart-healthy, cancer-reducing benefits!
What’s the secret to adopting this diet? Here are a few tips to get you started:
- CHOOSE PLANTS: Veggies, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds are all staples in the Mediterranean diet. Choose these foods more often. Swap out red meat in a favorite dish with beans or lentils instead. Aim to eat red meat only a couple times per month.
- USE HEALTHY FATS: Opt for olive oil over butter when cooking. Include fatty fish like salmon and tuna as your main protein source at least twice a week. Top your sandwich or salads with freshly sliced avocado. Snack on a handful of almonds instead of chips or pretzels.
- EAT MORE PRODUCE: Add berries to your morning cereal or oatmeal or extra veggies in your eggs. Pack containers of your favorite raw veggies (carrots, peppers, celery, cucumber, snap peas, cherry tomatoes) for a healthy on-the-go snack. Keep whole fruit like apples, oranges, and pears in your lunchbox, office desk, or car for a quick snack.
- SPICE IT UP: Instead of reaching for the salt shaker, flavor your foods with herbs and spices. Sprinkle ground cinnamon & chili powder on baked sweet potatoes for a great side dish. Toss dried or fresh parsley, oregano, or mint on your favorite lean protein (chicken, turkey, or fish) for a tasty twist.
- DRINK WINE: Include wine in moderation in the diet – this means it is okay to have a glass of wine with dinner (less than 5 ounces/day for women and less than 10 ounces/day for men). If you don’t drink alcohol, you don’t need to start.
- INCLUDE FAMILY AND FRIENDS: The Mediterranean culture emphasizes sit-down meal times with family and friends… unlike Americans whom tend to eat on-the-go more than they consume sit-down meals at the table. By taking time to enjoy a meal with company, individuals tend to eat more consciously.
- MOVE MORE: Engaging in an active lifestyle is also part of the Mediterranean way. It helps with weight control and lowering disease risk, so get some physical activity in every day!
Try some of these simple swaps today! Questions? Email me at [email protected]