Everything you need to know about the Mediterranean diet, according to a dietitian

By Samantha Cassetty, RD

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Mediterranean diet, which has taken the top spot in U.S. News & World Report’s best overall diet rankings for the second consecutive year. It was also a top-searched Google term in 2018. Hundreds of studies point to the fact that people who live in the Mediterranean basin enjoy longer, healthier lives, and what’s interesting is that throughout the region (say, Italy vs. Greece vs. Spain), people enjoy a variety of foods, but they essentially adhere to the same eating pattern.

What can I eat on the Mediterranean diet?

While there are no restrictive rules to follow on a Mediterranean diet, there are some guiding principles:

  • Eat more plants … To be specific, eat a lot more plants. A Mediterranean eating pattern is plant-centric, and each meal is based on plant foods, which include veggies, fruits, minimally processed whole grains (such as quinoa, brown rice, old fashioned oats and bulgur), pulses (the umbrella term for beans and legumes), nuts and seeds.
  • … And plant-based oils. The Mediterranean diet is known for being rich in high quality, extra virgin olive oil, but other anti-inflammatory fats get the green light: think nuts and seeds (and their butters) as well as avocados and olives.
  • Have seafood at least twice a week. This includes fish, like salmon, tuna and sardines, along with other seafood, like mussels, scallops and shrimp.
  • Do dairy right. People in this region enjoy cheese and yogurt, maybe even most days, but they eat these foods in the portioned amounts, which might be less than you’re currently used to.
  • Cut back on most animal foods. Chicken and eggs are fine on most days, but red meat is eaten less frequently. And even when these foods are eaten, they’re surrounded by plants.
  • Enjoy wine (up to a point). Wine is very much a part of a Mediterranean lifestyle, but it’s sipped responsibly — no more than a 5-ounce glass a day for women and two 5-ounces glasses for men.
  • Reduce sugars and refined grains. It’s probably not the first time you’ve heard this; these foods tend to cause inflammation and oxidative stress that can leave you susceptible to chronic health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, memory problems and cancer. These foods are eaten very infrequently on a Mediterranean diet.
  • Seek out the highest quality foods possible. Often times, flavor, nutrition and quality go hand in hand. Whenever possible, try to eat the highest quality foods available to you. For instance, you may consider trading up from cage-free eggs to pasture-raised eggs. Pasture-raised chickens forage for their own food and therefore, their eggs have a different and healthier nutrition profile. On the occasions you’re choosing red meat, look for grass-fed beef.

You may also want to try foods with the USDA Organic seal, which indicates a high standard of production methods that don’t include toxic or synthetic fertilizers, GMOs, antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones or artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. These production methods are not only more sustainable for the environment, they’re also indicators of quality production practices.

(Excerpt) Read more Here | 2019-05-10 15:26:00
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