By Cara Rosenbloom, RD
The Mediterranean Diet has been popularized by the foods that are abundant in the countries along the Mediterranean Sea, including Greece, Italy and Morocco. But you can replicate the same dietary pattern with foods from your local grocery store.
Your Mediterranean table should be brimming with vegetables and fruits, which should fill half your plate at meals. Choose from every hue of the rainbow, including leafy greens, sweet peppers, oranges and berries, to reap the benefits of the different antioxidants and vitamins they contain. Fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits are equally nutritious.
Include other plant-based foods at meals, too, such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices and whole grains. Make olive oil your preferred choice for salad dressing and light cooking.
While many of the foods in the Mediterranean Diet come from plants, you don’t need to exclude animal foods, such as chicken, dairy and meat; just slightly reduce the quantity. Rather than eating meat daily, you can replace it with tofu, chickpeas or peanut butter more often. Fish is recommended twice a week.
When you make room at your table for more plant-based foods, such as vegetables and beans, you’ll naturally reduce your intake of ultra-processed foods, such as baked goods, chips and fast food. This dietary transition helps reduce the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, as well as helping maintain brain health as you age.
The Mediterranean Diet is also about balanced living. Include family and friends at the dining table for the joy and laughter of shared meals, and include physical activity daily as part of your healthy lifestyle.