What is the Mediterranean diet?

It is an anti-inflammatory lifestyle that how been long linked to lower risk cardiac disease, some cancers and ease chronic pain.

Food groups that are eaten daily are: loads of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein – especially fish, little to no red meat and limited dairy.

Studies of a limited group have shown favourable lower inflammatory markers when a vegan diet has been adhered to in just three weeks however there are no guarantees this is right for you. Food sources should be primal, meaning no processed goods, only raw, natural ingredients to prepare meals.

Making sure you cover all your nutritional needs is the most important factor to health and longevity. Consume a well-rounded supply of dark green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains and fruit.

Mediterranean Diet Food List:

Vegetables

The key here is to be seasonal and as local as possible. No need to buy imported artichokes for example. What is more important is the method they are cooked and how they are consumed: cooked in olive oil and tomato usually and consumed as a main course. I do recommend having on hand some frozen vegetables such as peas, spinach and green beans when you cannot access fresh produce.

Fruit

Same concept, local and seasonal. It should be noted that Greeks consume more citrus in the winter which are an important source of antioxidants.

Dairy

Main sources of dairy is cheese and yogurt. I did not include milk in this list, but if you consume it add it to your list. It should be noted that dairy consumed within a Mediterranean diet is not low fat.

Meat and Poultry

Red meat is generally consumed once a week and chicken once a week. Meat is not the main attraction in any meal, unless it is a holiday or celebration. Common meat dishes include beef patties with herbs, chicken cooked in tomato, roasted chicken or roasted lamb.

Fish and Seafood

The fish is mainly small and fatty. But remember even in Greece in the mountainous areas, fish was not necessarily consumed fresh, but mostly in a cured form.

Grains and Bread

The Greek-Mediterranean diet is not a high carbohydrate diet, in fact nutrition analysis show that only 40% of calories come from carbs. They most common carb is bread. Bread accompanies all the vegetable dishes. Once a week there will be a dish with pasta, and rice is often mixed with vegetables such as in spinach rice or leek rice.

Fats and nuts

As noted olive oil is your main source of fat, you use it for cooking, baking and sautéing. Try and find the freshest extra virgin olive oil you can get your hands on.

Beans

Beans play an important role in the Mediterranean diet. Try to eat them twice a week, canned is okay.

Pantry Items

One of my most used pantry items are canned tomatoes that I use when making all those vegetable dishes on the winter.

Herbs and Spices

Greek cuisine is mostly a cuisine of herbs, and there a few spices that are used such as cinnamon sticks, all spice and occasionally cumin. Herbs are also used in beverages, and play an important in the health benefits of the diet.

Greens

This is another aspect of the diet that is important nutritionally. Try and include various greens in your diet. Serving suggestion: lightly boil them and serve them with olive oil and lemon or you can make a pita with them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to download The Complete Mediterranean Diet Food Shopping List.

Photo: Courtesy of R. Gusterson. Reference: Olive Tomato. 

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