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The World’s Healthiest and Most Delicious Diet

This summer, eat fresh and delicious the Mediterranean way!

The Mediterranean diet is widely touted as one of the healthiest diets on the planet and for good reason! Thousands of studies over the past 20 years have shown that following a Mediterranean diet may help prevent a host of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer.  The Mediterranean diet has also been linked with better brain health and healthy aging.  Best of all, the Mediterranean diet is delicious and easy to follow! What could be better than that?

The Mediterranean diet is so healthy that the 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines created a healthy eating pattern for Americans based on it. There’s even a Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.  The great thing about the Mediterranean diet is that it can be adapted according to individual preferences. Rather than having to follow a strict diet plan, anyone can incorporate the Mediterranean diet into their lifestyle by making some easy and delicious adjustments.

With all the hype, you may be asking, what exactly is the Mediterranean Diet?

Great question! The Mediterranean diet has roots in- you guessed it- the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, such as Italy, Greece, Cyprus and countries in the Middle East. It’s essentially a whole foods, plant based diet featuring fish, olive oil, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.  For more resources, recipes and information on how to follow a Mediterranean Diet, check out the Oldways Mediterranean Program.

While nothing is forbidden on a Mediterranean diet, it does limit red and processed meat, and dairy products. Instead, most of the protein on the Mediterranean diet comes from fish, seafood, beans and legumes. Refined carbs, like white bread and white pasta, as well as sweets are also limited but not cut out completely. Instead most carbs and desserts are based off of whole grains or fruit.

 10 tips to help you eat the Mediterranean way

  1. Make olive oil your go to oil. Use olive oil for sautéing, roasting and even baking.Replace butter with olive oil in pasta and potato dishes for an extra rich flavor. Use olive oil for salad dressings, sauces and marinades.
  2. Replace steak and pork with fish, especially fatty fish like salmon. Aim to have at least two serving of fish per week. Try baking fish with olive oil, garlic and lemon pepper and serve with roasted asparagus and rice pilaf. Top salads with tuna for extra protein!
  3. Instead of making meat the main dish, fill up on beans and legumes at lunch or dinner. Toss beans into salads, soups and pasta dishes. Try black bean burger or baked falafel, small balls made out of chickpeas, breadcrumbs and seasonings. Replace ground beef in recipes, such as meat sauce or sloppy joes, with cooked lentils or mashed beans.
  4. Replace mayo with hummus, a creamy dressing made out of chickpeas, tahini and olive oil. Dip your veggies in hummus for a snack or spread hummus on a sandwich instead of mayo and mustard.
  5. Replace white bread with whole wheat pita bread or whole wheat wraps. Try stuffing a whole wheat pita pocket with tuna and veggies or hummus, feta cheese and veggies for a filling sandwich!
  6. Replace white rice and white pasta with whole grains, such as tabouleh salad or brown rice. Tabouleh is a hearty salad made out of cracked wheat, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, cucumbers and tomatoes.  Try whole wheat pasta and whole wheat pizza crust for extra chewy texture and more fiber.
  7. Replace sugary treats with naturally sweet desserts, such as fresh fruit or a fruit smoothie. Try mixing fresh berries with a dash of lemon or lime juice, and fresh mint or basil. For an extra treat, serve fruit with Greek yogurt or whipped cream.
  8. Snack smart the Mediterranean way! Snack on fresh fruit and nuts instead of granola bars or other processed snack foods. Try raw veggies, like baby carrots, peppers or cucumber with hummus for a healthy snack.
  9. Load up on vegetables. Consider vegetables the main dish and meat and grains the side at every meal. Toss extra veggies into soups, casseroles and sauces. Have a salad or cooked veggies with meals.  Try getting in veggies at breakfast by throwing spinach in with your morning smoothie or eggs.
  10. If not otherwise contraindicated, enjoy red wine with meals, but in moderate amounts. No more than 5oz per day for women and no more than 10oz per day for men.

Want help implementing the Mediterranean diet in your life? Call us today at 301-288-1319 to set up an appointment with our Registered Dietitian for personalized nutrition advice and help meeting your health goals!