The Mediterranean diet originated from the idea that Mediterranean populations eat healthier than many Western civilizations. As it turns out, Mediterranean populations have consistently lower levels of heart disease compared to the rest of the Western world, according to an overview of the diet published by the European Society of Cardiology. The Mediterranean healthy hearts could be attributed to a diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which lower risks associated with cardiac disease. Lots of omega-3s from fish and olive oil keep blood pressure, triglyceride, cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels stable, according to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. If you want to change up your diet plan and integrate some omega-3s into your diet, try the Mediterranean diet meal plan.
Fats in the Mediterranean Diet
A key element of this plan is healthy fats. The Mediterranean diet meal plan prioritizes healthy fats, which minimize inflammation and increase energy. Healthy guidelines usually advocate 35% or less of daily calories from fat. However, with the Mediterranean diet meal plan, you can eat 35% to 40% if you limit your diet to healthy, monounsaturated fats, such as those found in olives, nuts, and avocados, instead of saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated and trans fats could contribute to heart disease and should be avoided. Swap butter for olive oil and canola oil to better follow the Mediterranean diet. For example, you can dip bread in olive oil with a bit of garlic and spices, rather than eating bread and butter. Trust us, bread and olive oil is equally delicious. Select low-fat dairy for healthy diet meal plans, like the Mediterranean diet. For example, swap higher fat dairy products for skim milk, fat-free yogurt, and low-fat cheese.
Mediterranean Friendly Starches
The Mediterranean diet also prioritizes plant-based foods, like fruits and vegetables. The farmer’s market in your area is a great source for garden-fresh produce. Most of your meals will be vegetarian in this diet meal plan, so expect to be cutting meat to a minimum. Also swap white starches for whole grains, legumes, and nuts. Nuts, in particular, are a great source of protein, but should be kept to a minimum since they are calorie dense and fatty. Replace peanut butter that contains hydrogenated fat or increased sodium with natural peanut butter. You could also try almond butter or tahini paste (ground sesame seeds) on bread as peanut butter substitutes.
Meats and Fish on the Mediterranean Diet
Limit red meat to no more than a few times a month in the Mediterranean diet meal plan. Instead, eat fish and poultry at least twice a week. Use fatty fish, rich with omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, and albacore tuna. Grill it, don’t fry it! Grilled meat is much healthier and less caloric than fried meat. Minimize your sodium intake by cutting your table salt use and, instead, flavor your food with spices and herbs.
If you like the philosophy of the Mediterranean diet meal plan you may want to give it a go. Whether you want to drop the pounds or you’re simply trying to live a healthier lifestyle, the Mediterranean diet could be your best bet.