One of the latest and popular diets that’s probably been hitting your feed is the Mediterranean diet. There are plenty of reasons to jump on this bandwagon—a big one being that it promotes a healthy heart. And since it’s American Heart Month, it’s a great time to focus on what keeps your heart beating strong! Let’s break down why the Mediterranean diet is a great lifestyle choice for your heart, your health, and with all the colorful foods, possibly even your Instagram feed (*wink wink*).
What’s so good about the Mediterranean diet?
This diet is based on traditional foods found in countries like Greece and Italy. It is mostly plant-based and includes fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains, fish, and other lean proteins. The diet utilizes the basics of healthy eating, like healthy fats, no added sugars, and nutrient-rich foods, and it has great benefits for heart health and weight management. The Mediterranean diet has also been associated with healthy brain function and lower levels of bad cholesterol.
Key foods for this diet:
While there isn’t one defined Mediterranean diet, here’s a guideline of foods you can include. Feel free to adjust and customize your meal plan to fit your needs.
- Fresh, low-starch fruits and vegetables (cantaloupe, spinach, kale, bell peppers, cucumbers, etc.)
- Whole-grain bread, cereal, rice, and pasta products
- Almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, natural nut butters, and tahini
- Healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
- Lean proteins like fish and poultry (we love a good grilled salmon!)
- Low-fat dairy such as skim milk, fat-free yogurt, and low-fat cheese
- Herbs and spices to season food instead of salt (parsley, thyme, rosemary, etc.)
- Plenty of water
- A glass of red wine a day (optional—but we won’t say no to that!)
What to avoid:
- Processed foods
- Red meat or high-fat proteins
- Processed meats like sausages and hot dogs
- Added sugars found in soda, candy, and ice cream
- Refined grains found in white bread or pasta
- Butter or margarine (extra virgin olive oil is a great alternative)
Try this delicious Mediterranean Grilled Salmon to get inspired.