If you know me personally or even follow me on social media, you’ve likely noticed that I eat my fair share of vegetables and fruits. I also eat a lot of nuts and seeds along with sizeable amounts of fish and seafood on a day-to-day basis. These are very deliberate choices, as I’m a diehard advocate for the Mediterranean style of eating. And, I’m not at all alone. The Mediterranean diet itself has become increasingly popular among scientists, physicians, nutritionists, health experts and health enthusiasts around the world.
Let me first emphasize that the Mediterranean diet isn’t necessarily a “diet” and is in no way comparable to structured, weight loss-oriented dieting plans like Keto, Paleo or South Beach, as it’s more of a lifestyle. While this style of eating has repeatedly been shown to bolster weight loss and support long-term weight management, it’s so much more than a diet.
In fact, when coupled with regular physical activity, a Mediterranean style of diet is known to provide protection against numerous chronic diseases including heart disease and related complications like heart attack and stroke, diabetes, various forms of cancers, and even Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
The Mediterranean style of eating has also shown promise in alleviating symptoms of clinical depression, asthma and erectile dysfunction.
Traditionally, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes increased consumption of high-quality, fat-rich foods and food sources like cold-water fish (salmon, tuna and trout), nuts, nut butters, seeds, seed oils, olives, olive oil and avocado. Preferential use of herbs and spices over salts and salt-based seasonings is also emphasized when eating the Mediterranean way.
Dry and semi-dry wines, especially red wines, are another main staple of the Mediterranean diet, as both the fermented fruit and alcohol components of wine are potent sources of health-promoting antioxidant compounds.
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes increased consumption of high-quality, fat-rich foods and food sources like cold-water fish (salmon, tuna and trout), nuts, nut butters, seeds, seed oils, olives, olive oil and avocado.
In addition to the “traditional” foods associated with the Mediterranean diet, consuming an abundance of vegetables and fruit, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), whole grains and other plant-based foods is highly encouraged. Regular consumption of protein-rich foods is also essential with this style of eating. Besides cold-water fish, you can consume sizable amounts of lean poultry along with moderate amounts of high-quality dairy foods, eggs and lean cuts of red meat for added protein.
So as not to overly complicate things, here are some general tips for eating the Mediterranean way.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to your vegetables or use it during cooking.
- Shoot for about 4-8 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruits each day.
- Aim for 1-2 servings of different varieties of beans, peas or lentils each day.
- Take in a 1/4-1/2 cup serving of nuts or seeds as a healthy snack or add them to your cereals or entrees for unique flavor and texture.
- Opt for about 3-5 servings of whole grain foods each day.
- Include up to four whole eggs a week into your eating plan. You can also incorporate 1-2 daily servings of Greek-style yogurt or cheese.
- Enjoy cold-water fish, lean poultry and/or lean cuts of red meat at least twice a week in 4-to-6-ounce portions. When it comes to eating red meat, err on the side of no more than 12-14 ounces per week.
Sounds pretty easy right?
It’s just that simple!
At the end of the day, most people can benefit from eating the Mediterranean way, as it’s very easy to follow, nutritiously sound, and packed full of incredibly delicious foods. Since this style of eating is essentially devoid of artificial sugars and trans fats and exceptionally rich in fiber, healthy fats (monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids), it’s no wonder it’s considered to be one of the most beneficial eating plans for long-term weight management and overall good health.