By Brandy Fuller, clinical dietitian, Baptist Health Medical Center-Stuttgart
Have you been thinking about how to eat healthier and improve your future well-being? Wanting to slim down for that upcoming vacation, or looking to add something new to the summer meal routine? Maybe you’ve been seeing all the details of your friend’s new diet plan on Facebook.
Is there a legitimate nutrition plan that can improve your health and possibly trim your waistline? Yes! Look no further than the Mediterranean diet for help with all of this!
Nutrition research collected over decades reveals that the Mediterranean style of eating can lead to increased life span, improved brain function, decreased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, and a variety of other health benefits.
The Mediterranean diet does not exclude any food groups, nor does it focus heavily on any individual nutrients. It is rich in minimally processed foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It also includes dairy, fish, and a high amount of healthy fats from mostly monounsaturated fats such as olives and olive oil. All of this combined can result in reduction of inflammation and oxidative stress, which are precursors for chronic disease.
An increased intake of minimally processed foods means decreased intake of processed foods, refined carbohydrates, trans fats, and sugar-sweetened beverages. Increased satiety can be seen due to higher fiber intake and longer digestion of foods rich in healthy fats.
Making a decision to try some parts of the Mediterranean diet plan can be as simple as focusing on seasonal produce and adding olive oil, herbs, and spices. Sautee or roast vegetables drizzled with olive oil and herbs, then finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan cheese for a low calorie, highly flavorful side dish.
Toss a fresh salad with a blend of olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice rather than a milk-based, high-fat dressing. You can also add almonds, sesame seeds, olives, or chickpeas to your salads as garnish. Include whole-grain breads, brown rice, and quinoa in your grocery cart, and choose fish as your main entrée at least twice a week. Seek out fresh fruits for snacks or that little something sweet at the end of your meal.
You can find farm-fresh produce to incorporate into your new lifestyle at the annual summer and fall BHealthy farmers markets!