How can you begin to consume one of the world’s healthiest diets? Here are simple ways to include more items from the Mediterranean diet into your diet.
The Mediterranean diet, perhaps the healthiest in the world, is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and olive oil. It emphasizes fish, poultry, and lean protein sources over red meat. Red wine is drunk consistently but in moderation.
Here, we detail the measures you may take to adopt a Mediterranean diet more reminiscent of the Mediterranean. Choose one of the following techniques and make it a habit. When ready, go to the next approach. Regardless of where you choose to begin, these eight suggestions for beginning a Mediterranean diet will help you revamp your diet to gain health advantages.
If changing your whole shopping and eating habits sounds overwhelming, start small. It may not be necessary to start from scratch, nor is it sustainable (although if you’re a beginner, you may want to read our guide to the Mediterranean diet for beginners or review our meal plans).
How is the Mediterranean diet defined?
The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional foods that people in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, such as France, Spain, Greece, and Italy, traditionally consumed. Researchers observed that these individuals were very healthy and posed a minimal risk for several chronic diseases.
Although there are no strict dietary guidelines, the diet typically promotes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and heart-healthy fats. The use of processed meals added sugar, and refined carbohydrates should be limited. Numerous studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet may aid in weight reduction and avoid heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and premature mortality. Because of this, the Mediterranean diet is often suggested for people seeking to enhance their health and prevent chronic illness.
1. Use olive oil in cooking
If you have been cooking using vegetable oil or coconut oil, switch to extra-virgin olive oil. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which may enhance HDL cholesterol, the “good” kind of cholesterol. According to 2017 Circulation research, HDL cholesterol transports “bad” LDL particles out of the arteries.
Use olive oil in homemade salad dressings and vinaigrettes. Drizzle it over completed foods such as fish and poultry to enhance their taste. Substitute olive oil for butter in mashed potatoes, spaghetti, and other dishes.
2. Eat More Fish
Fish is the main protein source in the Mediterranean diet. This diet emphasizes fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel in particular. These fish are abundant in omega-3 fatty acids, which are heart-and brain-healthy.
Even fish that are leaner and lower in fat (such as cod or tilapia) are worthwhile since they are a solid source of protein. If you don’t consume much fish today, a simple way to start is to designate one night each week as fish night. Fish cooked in foil or parchment paper packets is a simple and mess-free method to prepare supper. Or try adding it to some of your favorite dishes, such as tacos, stir-fries, and soups.
3. Paleo diet
The paleo diet is an extremely popular and successful weight-reduction plan-improvement plan. It is presently the most popular Mediterranean diet in the world. It focuses on raw meals said to be similar to those accessible to certain paleolithic ancestors.
4. Vegan diet
The vegan diet has grown in popularity over the last decade. It is associated with several health advantages, including weight reduction, improved cardiovascular health, and enhanced blood sugar regulation. The diet consists only of plant-based meals and excludes all animal products.
5. Consume vegetables continually
If you’re concerned that your diet is lacking in greens, this is the perfect opportunity to incorporate more vegetables. This may be accomplished by eating one serving as a snack, such as bell pepper slices or a handful of spinach in a smoothie, and another during dinner, such as these fast and simple side dishes.
Aim for at least two daily servings. More is better. According to Australian studies, consuming at least three servings of fruits and vegetables might help reduce stress.
6. Take Advantage of Whole Grains
Experiment with “genuine” whole grains that have not been processed and are still in their “whole” state. It takes only 20 minutes to cook quinoa, making it an ideal side dish for weeknight meals. Barley is rich in fiber and very filling; mix it with mushrooms for a hot, delicious soup.
A cup of steaming oatmeal is the ideal winter morning breakfast. Even popcorn is a whole grain; just eat air-popped corn and avoid butter to keep it healthy (try a drizzle of olive oil instead). Complement your consumption with more whole-grain foods such as whole-wheat bread and pasta. Look for the phrase “whole” or “whole grain” on the food container, and it should be the first item in the ingredient list.
But if you still find it too hard to make the move from your old refined favorites, phase in a whole grain by utilizing whole-grain blends of pasta and rice or blending a whole grain half-and-half with a refined one (like half whole-wheat pasta and half white) (like half whole-wheat pasta and half white).
The low-carb, whole-food diet is ideal for those who need to lose weight, improve their health, and reduce their illness risk. It is adaptable, enabling you to fine-tune your carbohydrate consumption based on your objectives. This Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, fruits, nuts, and fats, but it is low in carbs, sweets, and processed foods.
7. Consume Nuts
Nuts are another cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet. Grabbing a handful of almonds, cashews, or pistachios for a tasty on-the-go snack is possible.
According to a study published in Nutrition Journal, if participants substituted almonds for their typical snacks (cookies, chips, crackers, snack mix, cereal bars), their diets would be lower in empty calories, added sugar, and salt. In addition, nuts contain greater amounts of fiber and minerals, such as potassium, than processed snack foods.
8. Enjoy Fruit for Dessert
Fresh fruit is often an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants, making it a healthy option to satisfy your sweet tooth. If you want to consume more, add a little honey and sugar to the pears or sprinkle some brown sugar over the grapefruit.
Keep fresh fruit on display at home and carry a few pieces with you to the office so you can have a nutritious snack when your tummy begins to rumble. Pick a different exotic fruit to try each week to broaden your fruit horizons. Many supermarket shops offer unusual fruits.
9. Savor Every Mouthful
Eating like the Mediterranean diet is both a diet and a lifestyle. Instead of devouring your dinner in front of the television, slow down and taste it at the table with your family and friends. In addition to enhancing your enjoyment of both your meal and your company, eating slowly helps you tune into your body’s hunger and fullness signals.
You are more likely to eat until you are content rather than until you are bursting at the seams. People who are sensitive to gluten, a protein present in wheat, rye, and barley, need a gluten-free diet. For maximum health, you should prioritize naturally gluten-free whole foods.
Foods to restrict
These processed foods and substances should be limited while following the Mediterranean diet. Many foods include added sugar, but soda, candy, ice cream, table sugar, syrup, and baked goods have the most.
- Refined grains, including white bread, spaghetti, tortillas, chips, and crackers
- Trans fats, which are included in margarine, fried meals, and other processed foods
- Refined oils: soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, grapeseed oil
- Processed meat: sausages, hot dogs, deli meats, and beef jerky
- Highly processed foods, including fast food, ready-to-eat meals, microwave popcorn, and granola bars.
A 2010 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine examined the impact of protein and glycemic index on the maintenance of weight loss. After using a low-calorie diet to induce weight loss, researchers studied whether protein and glycemic index influenced the maintenance of weight loss.
There are so many diets that it might be hard to choose one to try. It is essential to remember, however, that certain eating habits have more scientific support than others. Whether your goal is to lose weight or just improve your general health, you should seek out diets that are backed by scientific evidence.
This eating pattern is often rich in nutritious plant foods and relatively low in animal foods, with an emphasis on fish and shellfish. It may assist in stabilizing blood sugar levels, promoting heart health, enhancing cognitive function, and more. The best part is that you can modify the principles of the Mediterranean diet to suit your needs.
If you despise fish and sardines but like whole wheat pasta and olive oil, you may create excellent Mediterranean-inspired dishes by combining these two ingredients.
The low-protein-high-glycemic-index diet was associated with subsequent significant weight regain, and weight regain was less in the groups assigned to a high-protein diet compared to those assigned to a low-protein diet, as well as less in the groups assigned to a low-glycemic-index diet compared to those assigned to a high-glycemic-index diet. These findings indicate that a small increase in protein content and a slight decrease in the glycemic index improved the maintenance of weight loss.