Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve been home more than ever. And what has everyone been doing… yes, eating.  If you put on the quarantine 15 or Covid-19 over the past 6 months, you might want to make some changes. In addition to helping us shed a few pounds, the Mediterranean diet can also help us prevent heart disease, diabetes, and mental decline.

The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating based on the traditional cuisine of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Interest in the Mediterranean diet began in the 1960s when people noticed that there were fewer deaths due to heart disease coronary heart disease caused fewer deaths in Mediterranean countries, such as Greece and Italy than in the U.S. and northern Europe.

It is typically high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and olive oil. It also emphasizes fish, poultry beans and eggs, a moderate amount of dairy, and limited intake of red meat.  In other words, healthy, fresh, and whole food nutrition. Another important element of the Mediterranean diet involves sharing meals with family and friends, being physically active, and you will like this...enjoying a glass of red wine! The Mediterranean diet is recognized by the  World Health Organization as a healthy and sustainable diet and one of the healthy eating plans recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to promote health and prevent chronic disease.

If you are looking to eat healthier and still enjoy your food, the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet might be right for you.  Here is an overview of the main types of foods in the Mediterranean diet. 

 

  • 1

    Fruits and Veggies

    Eat more fruits and vegetables. Aim for 7 to 10 servings a day of fruit and vegetables.

  • 2

    Whole Grains

    Opt for whole grains. Switch to whole-grain bread, cereal and pasta. Experiment with other whole grains, such as bulgur and farro.

  • 3

    Healthy Fats

    Use healthy fats. Try olive oil as a replacement for butter when cooking. Instead of putting butter or margarine on bread, try dipping it in flavored olive oil.

  • 4

    Seafood

    Eat more seafood. Eat fish twice a week. Fresh or water-packed tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring are healthy choices. Grilled fish tastes good and requires little cleanup. Avoid deep-fried fish.

  • 5

    Less Red Meat

    Reduce red meat. Substitute fish, poultry or beans for meat. If you eat meat, make sure it's lean and keep portions small.

  • 6

    Healthy Fats

    Healthy fats are a mainstay of the Mediterranean diet. They're eaten instead of less healthy fats, such as saturated and trans fats, which contribute to heart disease.

    Olive oil is the primary source of added fat in the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil provides monounsaturated fat, which has been found to lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol levels. Nuts and seeds also contain monounsaturated fat.