Following a Mediterranean diet is generally characterised as a diet that consists of lots of vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, with a moderate consumption of protein such as nuts and fish. Some research has concluded that adhering to a Mediterranean diet can help lower cholesterol, lower the risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, improve cardiovascular health and support a longer life. Eating a Mediterranean diet can also assist in weight loss. By replacing unhealthy fats with healthy fats such as olive oil, you can start to improve your health while trimming your waistline. Below are a few ways to help modify your diet and follow a traditional Mediterranean way of eating.
Fruits and vegetables
The Mediterranean diet emphasises a focus on eating vegetable and fruit based dishes. Eating six or more servings of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables every day is a good base for following a Mediterranean diet. Dishes such as complex salads that include proteins such as fish or a lean cut of chicken, along with tomatoes (yellow or red), onions, garbanzo beans, olives, feta cheese and adding herbs such as parsley or cilantro to taste. If you want something sweet, try a mandarin based salad with romaine, mandarin oranges and green onions. Top with nuts such as almonds or pecans to add protein and coat with a delicious light honey mustard dressing. By incorporating healthy salads into your diet on regular basis you may find that you will feel full longer, have more energy and over time start to lose weight.
Wholegrains such as quinoa, wholegrain breads and integral pasta are better than refined grains because they contain germ, endosperm and bran. Refined grains are processed in a way that they only contain endosperm. When a grain is refined it is stripped of many of its minerals, vitamins and properties that keep you full and satisfied for a longer length of time. In a Mediterranean diet you incorporate your base diet with wholegrains. Delicious wholegrain dishes include foods such as whole wheat pasta and brown rice. Try creating a dish that contains a cup of brown rice, avocado, peas and artichoke hearts. This combination provides almost 1/3 of your daily recommended intake for fibre and will keep you full longer. Another delicious wholegrain based dish is choosing a whole wheat bread and toasting it on the hob, adding roasted vegetables and a slice of mozzarella cheese. Pan-fry with olive oil and you have created a tasty and satisfying Mediterranean sandwich that will keep you full and satisfied all day long.
Nuts are another important food in a proper Mediterranean diet. Nuts are usually high in fat but contain the healthy fats that keep you full longer and assist in weight loss. It is not advised, however, to eat more than a handful of nuts a day if you are trying to lose weight. The best way to incorporate nuts into a Mediterranean diet is by adding them to salads and vegetable stir frys. Try a chicken noodle stir-fry with wholegrain noodles, freshly made peanut sauce and as many vegetables as you would like. Top salads with a 1/2 handful of nuts that contain healthy fats such as almonds, pecans or walnuts. By adding just a handful of nuts you can help significantly curb your appetite aiding in weight loss over time.
Eat more fish
Although the Mediterranean diet usually allows for a moderate consumption of protein during the course of the week, traditional mediterranean diets will advise to substitute fish in place of red meat at least two times a week. Fish is packed with omega-3 fatty acids that provide a whole list of health benefits. Substituting fish in place of red meat when following a Mediterranean diet may help improve your mood, lower your risk for heart disease and aid in weight loss over time. For a tasty dish that incorporates fish, try combining a 400 grams of fish fillet such as tuna, mackerel, or trout garnished with 2 bulbs of fennel, (trimmed) lemon, plum tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. The great thing about fish dishes is that they are incredibly satisfying and filling without weighing you down. When choosing a fish try to purchase from sustainable sources which have a reputation for retaining more of their nutritional value.