Ready to take your taste buds on a trip to the Mediterranean? The Mediterranean diet originated in olive-producing regions that include Greece, Italy, and Spain. The beauty of this style of eating is that it’s not limited or restrictive. It emphasizes plant-based foods such as vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. Foods cook in heart-healthy olive oil, while herbs and spices flavor dishes. And it’s all enjoyed with an occasional glass of red wine.
As an added bonus, the diet offers health benefits. “People who follow the Mediterranean diet tend to live longer and have a lower chance of being overweight. Studies have shown that eating the Mediterranean way may provide protection against certain chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease, and certain types of cancers,” says Fresh Thyme Registered Dietitian Meghan Sedivy.
Fruits & Veggies
Plant-based foods—especially vegetables—are a major part of the Mediterranean diet. Fruits and veggies provide many different vitamins and minerals as well as dietary fiber. Eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, cherries, and peaches are favorites. The more colors, the merrier!
Olives & Olive Oil
These mainstays in the Mediterranean diet supply vitamin E, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. Olive oil contains “healthy” monounsaturated fats that help to decrease bad cholesterol (LDL). Choose cold-pressed olive oil for the most benefits.
Whole grains contribute B vitamins and may help lower your risk of heart disease by decreasing bad cholesterol. Look for the word whole (e.g. whole wheat, whole grain) when reading food labels.
Legumes & Beans
Beans and legumes serve as a staple in the Mediterranean diet. They are a source of protein and fiber. Try replacing a serving of red meat at least once a week with a serving of beans, such as cannellini, kidney, and fava.
Herbs & Spices
Replace salt with antioxidant-rich herbs and spices. They are a source of magnesium, vitamins A and K, and zinc. Basil, oregano, cinnamon, and cardamom add fresh, lively Mediterranean flavors to foods.
Want to get started? Our Salmon and Chickpea-Quinoa Bowl showcases Mediterranean ingredients that you can incorporate into everyday dishes.