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The Mediterranean Diet

A cross-cultural prospective study that began in 1958 lasted for 50 years, studying 7 countries having varied traditional eating patterns and lifestyles. The term “Mediterranean diet” was derived from the foods and lifestyle enjoyed by the people living in proximity to the Mediterranean Sea during the late 1940’’s, 50s and 60s. This population had surprisingly low rates of heart disease and long lifespans compared to most other populations. This diet, was locally sourced, and comprised of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, seafood, olive oil, some poultry and some dairy, occasionally red meat and red wine in moderation. Daily walking and physical activity was a way of life.

My top recommendations overall healthy eating habits:

  • Pack on the produce: veggies and fruit should be the main focus at meals and snacks.
  • Prioritize good-for-you fats: plant-based oils such as olive oil and other monounsaturated fats such as tree nuts.
  • Eat more seafood: fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) served at least once a week.
  • Choose 100% whole grains: farro, buckwheat, bulgur, wheat, brown rice and oats, or products made with 100% whole wheat flour or grains.
  • Enjoy conscious indulgences: dark chocolate, dried fruits, sweets, and baked goods in moderation.
  • Think quality over quantity: limit/eliminate added sugar, refined grains, processed meats, and other high processed foods.
  • Provide enrichment — of multiple varieties: cooking with herbs and spices, enjoying favorite restaurants, and trying new flavors.

What makes this "diet" so great is that it’s a lifestyle, not a traditional weight-loss plan that has you counting calories or measuring portions. It's all about enjoying meals with friends and loved ones, savoring each flavor, indulging yet being mindful, and making time for plenty of physical activity. Fill up on tons of veggies, fruit, 100% whole grains, pulses (beans, chickpeas, peas, and lentils); choose lean protein like seafood, eggs, and small portions of meat; and savor sweets in smaller amounts.

*Please note these recommendations are for the average adult, certain health conditions/diseases are inconclusive to these recommendations.

Blog post provided by:
Katie Foster, RDN, LD
Clinical Registered Dietitian


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