Mediterranean cuisine is often touted as the healthiest in the world. But what, exactly, does it mean to follow a Mediterranean diet?
This nourishing way of eating is based on the traditional foods of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. The diet focuses on daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats; weekly intake of fish, poultry, beans and eggs; moderate portions of dairy products; and limited intake of red meat.
Fresh produce, fish, and olive oil are essential, with meat playing a secondary role. Monounsaturated fats are considered to be healthy fats, and include olive oil, nuts, and seeds. Fish is an important component of the Mediterranean diet; fatty fish like herring, sardines, salmon, mackerel, lake trout, and albacore tuna are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and can help reduce inflammation and other conditions that contribute to heart disease. Regular consumption of these foods, as part of a balanced Mediterranean-style diet, provides a nutritional foundation that is optimal for heart health.
While this diet may not seem groundbreaking, it is important to emphasize the health benefits of this “simpler” way of eating as our culinary world constantly changes and often becomes more indulgent.
Overall, the Mediterranean Diet is focused on healthy, local, and seasonal foods that celebrate the culinary diversity of this part of the world. It also doesn’t require you to memorize a bunch of rules or measure foods – it’s just keeping some basic ground rules in mind, and sticking to them. This is a happy, healthy, and sustainable way to eat.
Making smart food choices is the basis of the Mediterranean Diet. Before you prepare your next meal, ask yourself a few simple questions. Is your diet primarily whole food, plant and vegetable-based? Does it substitute healthy fats for bad fats? Do you eat fish 2 or 3 times each week, and red meat no more than 2 or 3 times a month? If so, you are well on your way to adopting a Mediterranean-style diet, which can lead to better overall health.
Check out my delicious Mediterranean recipes here. On my site you’ll find loads of delicious inspiration to support a healthy Mediterranean lifestyle.
Photo Credit Shutterstock @Antonina Vlasova