The recent buzz in the news about the healthfulness of the Mediterranean diet has sent everyone in a flurry to incorporate the diet into their daily lives. Many of us love various aspects of a Mediterranean diet and have been eating some or all of the foods that it encompasses for years.
We must recognize that all practices of a true Mediterranean diet should be followed in order to benefit from the decreased risk of heart disease established in the recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The most significant features of this diet are the primary consumption minimally processed foods. These foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, minimally processed dairy like yogurt, healthful fats from vegetable oils, and regular but moderate amounts of wine if appropriate. It also encourages infrequent intake of red meat. Consumption of these whole foods should replace a diet full of highly processed and refined carbohydrates, processed meats, trans fats in processed foods, and sugar-sweetened beverages. In order to reap the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet it is suggested to incorporate all of the traditional Mediterranean practices that work together to form a “way of life” rather than a diet.
If you want to experience the health benefits of a true Mediterranean, here is how to get started:
• Include grains, vegetables, and fruits at most meals. Consume them in their whole, minimally processed forms.
• Include olives & olive oil as your main source of fat. Eat olives whole, use them or olive oil in cooking or for flavoring dishes.
• Consume nuts, beans, legumes, and seeds daily. Make sure your serving size is controlled at only 1 oz. or a handful each day.
• Flavor food with natural herbs and spices instead of adding salt.
•Eat cheese and yogurt regularly in small amounts.
• Make fish and shellfish the major protein source in meals about 3 times a week.
• Include eggs as a protein source in place of meat regularly.
• Consume lean meats infrequently in small portions and consume moderate portions of poultry more frequently.
• Make fruit a regular treat and consume small servings of sweetened, minimally processed, desserts less frequently.
• If appropriate, drink wine daily but in moderation. Up to one 5-oz glass of wine per day for women and up to two 5-oz glasses for men is considered moderate.
• Make water your primary beverage.
• Control your portions. Make sure portions of meats, sweets, wine, poultry, dairy, grains and eggs are small to moderate.
• Include physical activity in daily life.
• Enjoy and savor meals in the company of others!
Stacy Rothschild, MPH, RD, is the owner of New Leaf Nutrition, Paramus and West Caldwell, NJ www.newleafnj.com (201)870-3765 email@example.com