The Mediterranean diet is known for preventing noncommunicable diseases and promoting good health. It consists of eating mainly fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, fish and seafood, poultry, cheese and small amounts of red meats and refined sugars. When trying out a Mediterranean diet for the first time, remember to always eat in moderation and allow for adjustments to your personal needs and preferences.
Fish is the go-to protein in a Mediterranean diet. Specifically, fish rich in omega-3 as such salmon and tuna. Even less fatty ones such as cod or tilapia are good as they are still high in protein. Make it point to eat at least 2 servings of fish per week and to utilize healthier cooking methods such as baking, grilling and steaming instead of deep frying. Limit red meat intake such as beef and lamb to once a week.
When incorporating fats into your diet, consider using extra-virgin olive oil instead of the usual vegetable, sunflower oil or butter. Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in mono-saturated fatty acids which improve the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. Incorporate olive oil in your homemade salad dressings and drizzle it on meat dishes for a flavor boost!
Cut out simple, refined carbohydrates and switch them to complex whole grains like wholemeal bread and brown rice. If it’s too difficult to bid farewell to your old refined favorites, try the half- and – half option for starters. Try quinoa which only takes about 20 minutes to cook. Even popcorn is whole grain as long as you eat the air- popped type instead of the sweetened version. And try starting your day with a warm bowl of oatmeal topped with natural peanut butter for additional protein and your favorite fruits. Its guaranteed to keep you going until lunch.
Nuts are another staple in the Mediterranean diet. Quell midday hunger pangs by grabbing a handful of nuts instead of that candy bar cookie. Be adventurous and make your own trail mix with a variety of almonds, cashews, walnuts and dried coconut flakes. Or, spread your favorite nut butter on an apple slice for a healthy snack. Nuts contain more fiber, vitamins, and minerals plus less sugar and sodium than junk food.
If you’ve not been eating your greens, it’s time to start. Apart from ensuring you eat one portion of vegetables during your main meals, add them to your snacks. Throwing spinach into your smoothies or crunching on roasted bell pepper strips are some tasty examples.
Sip (conservatively) on wine
People from the Mediterranean region are known not to shy away from wine but that does not mean finishing the entire bottle in one go. Dieticians advise women to limit their daily intake to 100ml and to 150ml for men. Pair your wine with food and never on an empty stomach.
Joshua Michael is with a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and a Masters in Sports and Exercise Science, Joshua is well equipped to curate scientifically-backed fitness regimes to enhance the overall fitness of Cognifyx’s users. As a sports physiologist in the Rangers Football Club in Glasgow and National Youth Sports Institute, Joshua is apt in applying physiological theories and methods to prepare elite athletes for competition. Joshua is also an ACE certified personal trainer who enjoys the occasional pint.
Sofi F et al, Rosanna Abbate, Gian Franco Gensini, Alessandro Casini; Accruing evidence on benefits of adherence to the Mediterranean diet on health: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 92, Issue 5, 1 November 2010, Pages 1189–1196, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2010.29673