When you think of a Mediterranean diet, you’ve probably come across the many health benefits of this diet. From lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes to help with weight control Mediterranean cuisine is one of the most popular diets around the world, loved by researchers and nutritionists alike.
Fast food, refined sugar, and processed foods are all restricted to this diet. Instead, it focuses on including whole foods like nuts, seafood, high-quality dairy, vegetables, olive oil, and whole grains to support heart health and stabilize blood sugar levels.
To learn more about the Mediterranean diet, we asked our experts what to add to our shopping list, what a five-day Mediterranean eating plan looks like, and their tips. If your main reason for this diet is weight loss, check out our guide how to follow a mediterranean diet for weight losswhich contains all the tips you need to start seeing results.
What do you eat on the Mediterranean diet
“One of the main benefits of the Mediterranean diet is that it supports the endothelium, which is the smooth layer inside the heart,” says the clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawer. “Endothelial cells help regulate blood pressure, which in turn leads to a reduced risk of stroke.”
If you choose a Mediterranean eating plan, you’ll be eating a wide variety of vegetables, which means you’ll have a wide variety of colors. This, as Sawyer explains, is a surefire way to improve your health.
“A rainbow diet provides an abundance of essential nutrients that are largely absent from the typical Western diet, particularly energizing B vitamins and magnesium. The Mediterranean diet is also naturally low in refined sugars, which are the main cause of weight gain. The more refined and sugary foods we consume, the more our blood sugar becomes dysregulated, the stronger our insulin response becomes, and the more fat is stored.”
Another benefit of this diet is that it’s high in protein, from fish and lean meats like chicken to nuts and dairy.
“People on the Mediterranean diet tend to feel a lot more energetic because many of our known nutritional deficiencies are being addressed,” says Sawyer. “Especially iodine, which is needed for cognition and brain acuity and is found in fish. It also contains many B vitamins for energy and liver detoxification and iron which is needed for energy. So we will always feel a lot better if we follow this diet and by doing so we can mitigate many of the risk factors associated with the onset of degenerative diseases.”
If you believe in the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and want to try it for yourself, Sawyer is a certified nutritionist for you Reema Patel have created an easy five-day Mediterranean diet meal plan that you can follow at home.
Mediterranean Diet: Breakfast
Day 1: Poached Egg on Sourdough Toast with Seeds – Eggs are one of the best sources of protein and a great way to start the day.
Day 2: Buckwheat Pancakes With Berries – why not make some buckwheat pancakes (which are gluten-free for sensitive people) and load them with colorful berries like blueberries, strawberries and cherries – all during the summer months of season.
Day 3: Mashed Avocado Sprinkled with Chopped Walnuts on Rye Toast – Avocados are a great source of healthy fats.
Day 4: Wholemeal Toast with Ricotta and Watermelon – Here you get carbohydrates from the toast, healthy fats from the ricotta and nutrients from the watermelon.
Day 5: Spinach Omelet with Asparagus, Mushrooms and Olives – a good source of protein, and spinach, mushrooms and asparagus provide additional nutrients.
Mediterranean Diet: Lunch
Day 1: Traditional Greek Salad of Cucumber, Onion, Tomato, Feta, and Olives – This salad is packed with healthy fats and veggies for essential nutrients.
Day 2: Sliced tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh basil – a classic combination, this traditional Med salad is packed with healthy fats and antioxidant-rich tomatoes.
Day 3: Grilled fresh sardines with a green salad (lettuce, arugula, cucumber and onion) and focaccia bread dipped in olive oil – the sardines are a good source of protein for this dish.
Day 4: Chicken sandwich with arugula or lettuce and hummus – this easy sandwich is perfect when you need something quick.
Day 5: Falafel with Couscous and Green Beans – an easy packed lunch option, make the falafel from a packet rather than using ready-made ones. Fry them in olive oil for a crispy finish.
Mediterranean Diet: Dinner
Day 1: Foil-baked salmon with lemon and dill, new potatoes, roasted tomatoes, basil, and roasted asparagus—packed with nutrients and healthy fats, this is a one-pan casserole so there’s no need to reserve.
Day 2: Hearty minestrone soup with small noodles, kidney beans, kidney beans, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, canned tomatoes, rosemary, bay leaf and bell pepper – make this ahead and save yourself lunch the next day.
Day 3: Fresh tuna steak with mashed sweet potatoes, sautéed kale, and roasted tomatoes with basil — the Mediterranean diet is high in fish for healthy proteins and fats.
Day 4: Stuffed Peppers with chopped turkey, cheese and Italian spices – great for boosting your protein intake.
Day 5: Portobello Mushroom Pizza and Salad – when baked with olive oil and garlic, then topped with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, these portobello mushrooms make the perfect fake pizza option.
Tips for sticking to the Mediterranean diet meal plan
Sticking to a lifestyle change can be difficult. To help you, we’ve put together some expert tips that will make following the Mediterranean diet a breeze.
- Try mindful eating: “With an array of colorful and tasty foods that evoke relaxation in sunny climes, the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle is a great way to enjoy your food and reduce stress while boosting your health,” says Caroline Hind, a Registered Nutritional Therapist for vitaminology (opens in new tab).
- Top your vitamin intake in the winter months: “We should always ensure that nutrient deficiencies aren’t causing more serious problems by taking a high-potency multivitamin and mineral every day,” says Sawyer. “Most of us aren’t lucky enough to live in the Mediterranean, so we should take something more with us Vitamin D also in summer as it is important for our general health.”
- Cooking with olive oil: Olive oil is an important part of the Mediterranean diet and one of the healthiest fats around. Use it in cooking and drizzle over salads to reap its benefits.
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