7 Mediterranean staples that everyone should consume
This is for you!
The Mediterranean diet is a flexible eating style that promotes whole foods, excludes overly processed items like sweets and processed meats, and encourages eating for pleasure. Hundreds of research show that eating this manner is good for your health. Here are the greatest foods to eat on this top-ranked diet in honor of International Mediterranean Diet Month.
The Mediterranean diet has numerous health benefits.
Let's talk about why this eating pattern is so healthy before we get into the foods eaten in the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean diet may protect against strokes and heart attacks, memory loss, type 2 diabetes, and depression, according to research. It's also linked to a longer life expectancy. In addition to these advantages, the Mediterranean diet has been related to a healthy body weight.
The Mediterranean diet's emphasis on plant foods is one of the reasons it is so beneficial. These foods are high in fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients that address the fundamental causes of most health issues. In a nutshell, plant-based compounds reduce inflammation, create a diverse and healthy gut environment, and protect against free radical damage that causes oxidative stress.
Extra virgin olive oil
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) is a key component of the Mediterranean diet. Monounsaturated fats and polyphenols, antioxidants that protect against free radical damage, are abundant in EVOO. An imbalance of antioxidants to free radicals causes oxidative stress, which promotes a variety of diseases. A diet high in antioxidants, such as those found in EVOO and other plant foods, can help to prevent this. The chemicals in EVOO are also beneficial to gut health.Make EVOO your go-to cooking oil to eat like the Mediterraneans. Use it to cook your vegetables and as a seasoning on salads, pasta, and toast. To keep the health benefits of EVOO, buy it before it expires and keep it in a cold, dark place. Because light can degrade the quality of EVOO, store it in a dark bottle.
Fruits and vegetables
You're probably aware that fruits and vegetables are nutritious powerhouses, which is why they're such an important part of the Mediterranean diet. Mediterranean diners stuff their plates with veggies at every meal. Fruit is eaten several times a day in the Mediterranean region, and it can also be found in desserts (think berries marinated with balsamic vinegar or poached pears with yogurt sauce).
When it comes to vegetables, forget about small salads and side dishes. Luxurious salads and veggie-heavy pasta dishes, grain salads, soups, and stews all feature these ingredients.
Fish is a major source of animal protein in the Mediterranean diet, and it's consumed at least twice a week, as recommended by the American Heart Association and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This amount, according to a key study, reduces your odds of dying from heart disease by 36%. Another study discovered that persons who eat fish regularly live 2.2 years longer than those who do not. Furthermore, evidence suggests that those who consume fish have a lower incidence of depression and have better brain health and reasoning skills as they get older.If fish isn't on your normal menu, try pairing it with familiar items. Add smoked salmon to scrambled eggs, fish tacos, or shrimp to your favorite stir-fry, for example.
Nuts are a staple of the Mediterranean diet, and each variety has its own set of benefits. Almonds, for example, have the highest vitamin E content of any nut, Brazil nuts have the highest magnesium content, and walnuts are the only nut that has an excellent supply of plant-based omega 3 ALA. These plant-based lipids are related to omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and provide powerful anti-inflammatory protection. Plant-based ALAs can lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure, according to a review research published in 2022.The researchers also found intriguing evidence that ALAs can help prevent type 2 diabetes and age-related cognitive decline. They also claim that around 12 ounces of walnuts per day provide health benefits, even though the Mediterranean diet recommends up to two 1-ounce doses of various nuts each day. Add nuts and seeds (such as chia, pumpkin, and sesame seeds) to stir-fries, baked goods, fruit dishes, and trail mixes to quickly reach this amount.
Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are examples of pulses, which are high in health-promoting elements. Eating these foods regularly is linked to improved heart health, digestive health, lifespan, and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Try substituting legumes for meat at some meals to keep with Mediterranean tradition. One method is to include them into delectable meat-free recipes like burgers, chili, and tomato sauce. Pulses are eaten at least twice a week on the Mediterranean diet, but they may easily be incorporated into any meal or snack. Toss white beans into a smoothie or sauté them with greens, eat roasted chickpeas or hummus as a snack, and use them in soups, salads, gritty side dishes, and pasta.
Each Mediterranean meal usually includes one to two servings of healthy grains. Evidence suggests that consuming whole grains as part of a Mediterranean diet can minimize your risk of heart disease and death from it, as well as type 2 diabetes. Whole grain fiber is especially protective against disease-promoting inflammation, according to a 2022 study. However, keep in mind that portion sizes may be smaller than in a typical American diet. Italian scientists recommended an updated Mediterranean diet pyramid in 2019, recommending 90 to 180 grams of whole grain carbs per day, or one to two cups of whole grains at each meal.The balance of the dish is made up of vegetables and other plant-based items like nuts and pulses.
Pasta merits special attention since it is a refined grain that is both a part of Mediterranean cuisine and a refined grain. Overall, refined grains are consumed less frequently on the Mediterranean diet, but when pasta is consumed, it is paired with other Mediterranean diet staples such as vegetables, legumes, and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). It can also be added to soup or served alongside fish or shellfish. Furthermore, the portions may be smaller than you are accustomed to. When combined with other healthy foods, pasta can help you get more protective nutrients into your diet.
4 simple methods to start eating a Mediterranean diet
- To begin the Mediterranean diet, all you need is a well-stocked kitchen and a willingness to experiment. Here are some more suggestions for living this way:
- Fill 75 percent of your plate with plant items. If preferred, the rest of your plate can include fish, poultry, or eggs.
- Reduce your consumption of red meat, highly processed foods, and sugary foods. This includes refined ultra-processed grains.
- Take some time to sit and enjoy your meals.
Don't be concerned about cuisine native to the Mediterranean. Mediterranean food can be adapted to fit diverse cuisines by focusing on plants. Begin with the plant foods that your family appreciates and work your way up.