The Mediterranean diet is once again in the news for its ability to decrease risk of heart disease, some types of cancer, and even Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. The traditional diet of people who live in countries surrounding the Mediterranean: France, Spain, Italy, and Greece is high in olive oil, whole grains, fruits, nuts, vegtables and fish; it’s also low in meat and dairy.
Most of know by now that olive oil is good for us, but have you replaced butter or margarine with this healthier type of fat? One of my clients has. She now puts extra virgin olive oil on her steamed vegetables, uses olive oil as a salad dressing, and even makes mashed potatoes using olive oil instead of butter. She loves the health benefits, but even better: she says the food tastes wonderful!
Here are 5 easy ways you can bring a touch of the Mediterranean into your life – and improve your health:
1. You guessed it: substitute extra virgin olive oil for butter, margarine, or other types of oils as often as possible.
2. Add a piece of fruit to every meal. Today I had a banana with my breakfast, mixed fruit salad with lunch, and I just enjoyed an apple for a snack.
3. Double up on veggies. If your version of vegetables at lunch is a lettuce leaf on your sandwich, take a bold step and add some cherry tomatoes or a handful of baby carrots. If you’re proud of the fact you serve a cooked vegetable every night with dinner, serve two different cooked vegetables.
4. Enjoy a smaller serving of meat a couple of times each week and instead add more vegetables. A stir-fry is a simple way to accomplish this goal, but so are grilled kabobs.
5. Make your grains “whole” whenever possible. Look for the word “whole” in the first ingredient. Cheerios are a whole grain cereal for breakfast; make a lunchtime sandwich using whole grain bread; serve brown rice for dinner instead of white rice.