Are you looking for a healthy diet? If so, you should consider the Mediterranean Diet. Countries living near the Mediterranean Sea have been eating this healthy cuisine for thousands of years. It’s full of nutrients from foods like fatty fish, olive oil, and red wine. Today many people are looking for diets that improve their heart health. This is one of the best options since it’s chock-full of nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids. You can also pick from easy Mediterranean diet recipes that feature the diet’s healthy ingredients. If you’re an alcohol drinker you can also enjoy one glass of red wine per day.
Do you feel like you don’t have enough time and effort to prepare homecooked meals? Fun Fact: The fast food industry is worth over $570 billion worldwide. There are many reasons why people buy fast food but one of the main ones is convenience. The good news is you can make nutritious and delicious meals inspired by the Mediterranean region. These recipes are easy to make and won’t take hours to prepare. So, you can still enjoy food like salmon, tomatoes, grapes, Greek yogurt, and red/white wine. It’s a matter of going with simple recipes that you can prepare when you’re short on time.
What Is the Mediterranean Diet?
As the name suggests this diet is based on the cuisine eaten in nations that are around the Mediterranean Sea. They include Italy, Spain, Greece, France, and others.
One of the main benefits of this diet is people in the Mediterranean region have been consuming these foods for thousands of years. Does it work? Fun Fact: The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that Spain, Italy, and France are among the world’s top 10 countries in terms of life expectancy (2015).
This diet features many foods that scientific studies have proven to be healthy including:
- Beans (peas, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts)
- Root Veggies (sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, potatoes)
- Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck)
- Fatty fish/seafood (trout, mackerel, sardines, tuna, salmon, clams, oysters, crabs, lobster)
- Fruits (oranges, apples, grapes, strawberries, melons, figs, bananas)
- Whole Grains (wheat, barley, corn, rye, buckwheat)
- Eggs (duck, quail, chicken)
- Herbs/spices (sage, basil, cinnamon, rosemary, garlic, oregano)
- Dairy (Greek yogurt, cheese, plain yogurt)
- Beverages/drinks (water, fruit juice, coffee, tea, red wine)
- Nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts)
- Healthy Fats (olive oil, avocado, olives)
- Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, safflower)
- Whole wheat pasta/bread
- Wine (red/white)
In a nutshell, you should be consuming fresh/whole foods to get the most nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.
There are also certain foods you should try to avoid. They include:
- Trans fats (margarine, microwave popcorn, snack foods)
- Refined grains (wheat bread/pasta)
- Red meat
- Sweetened drinks (fruit juices, sodas, tea, coffee)
- Sugar (table sugar, candy bars, sodas, ice cream)
- Refined oils (canola oil, soybean oil)
- “Diet” foods (low-fat)
- Processed meat (hot dogs, bacon, Vienna sausage)
Some of these foods can be a grey area. However. For example, bacon or sausages made from organic ingredients and few additives can provide health benefits. They should still be consumed once in a blue moon. Canned Highly-processed Vienna sausage is a different story.
It’s important to read food labels before buying store-bought food.
Super-easy Mediterranean Diet Recipes
1. Salmon w/ snap peas
This is a classic dish that gets amped up with some tarragon herb. It also provides a crispy texture from panko bread crumbs. You can also swap in substitute veggies like broccoli or “French” green beans.
2. Chicken/Cucumber Salad w/ Pesto
This one has lots of healthy ingredients including chicken, cucumber, and parsley. Fun Face: Cucumbers are technically fruits since they have seeds.
This is a hearty salad for lunch or dinner. It’s packed with protein from the poultry and chickpeas. You’ll also get lots of Vitamin K (Potassium) from the parsley pesto.
3. Pasta Salad w/ Tomatoes/Eggplant
If you want a new twist on an old dish this should be it! It’s full of veggies yet is very filling. That’s due to the hearty eggplant. You can use different types of cheese like mozzarella.
A big benefit of this salad is you can make it early. Drizzle with oil/vinegar for some zesty flavor. If you want even more flavor add some chopped basil to trigger even more taste buds.
4. Lamb/Beet Meatballs
This is a healthier twist on a classic meat dish. It swaps out beef and swaps in lamb. There’s also a root crop featured in beet juice, which has been a trending diet food. Root crops aren’t low-carb but are high-nutrient. This is a hearty and healthy dish that’s a cinch to prepare.
5. Quick Mediterranean Chicken
This one is cooked in cooking wine, which provides extra nutrients to the dish. The wine is dry/sweet so it won’t overpower the other ingredients. The dish is high-protein (chicken) and healthy fats (butter). You can serve with a starch like brown rice or potatoes.
6. Shrimp/Leek Spaghetti
This Italian dish features high-omega-3 shrimp. Meanwhile, leeks are in the same family as garlic, onions, and scallions. This recipe also includes green peas and white wine.
Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
1. Good fats
The diet from the Mediterranean region also focuses on healthy fats versus trans/saturated fats. One of the main sources is olive oil, which is an unsaturated found. Studies show it can lower total and bad cholesterol.
The diet also includes other sources of good fats like seeds and nuts. National Geographic’s Blue Zone project showed that eating tree nuts weekly was linked to a longer life.
2. Antioxidant-rich Wine
One of the X-factors of this diet is red wine. One glass/day is allowed of it. It’s a low-carb, high-antioxidant drink that’s been linked to benefits like lower cholesterol and healthier hearts.
3. Blood sugar levels
You can decrease your blood sugar levels on this diet. That’s because it avoids food like white sugar, flour, and rice that can cause your blood sugar to spike.
4. Whole Foods
One of the main benefits of this diet is the focus on whole foods like real meat and whole grains. This boosts the nutrient level of the foods versus refined grains, for example.
The diet isn’t vegetarian/vegan but it instead focuses on the quantity and quality of protein. For example, you should eat fish/seafood twice a week. Small amounts of poultry like chicken are allowed. Meanwhile, processed meats and red meats get a thumbs down.
The diet also includes several plant-based protein sources like beans and peas. These foods offer several nutrients not found in animal meat.
This is one of the top features of the diet. Studies show it can help to lower the risk of heart disease. That’s done by lowering the various risk factors that are connected to the world’s top cause of death.
This diet is easily one of the best commercial diets for heart health. It’s even recommended by various groups to boost health and severe disease prevention through Mediterranean diet recipes.