The health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet are numerous. Use these 5 simple steps to make an easy transition to this healthy lifestyle.
- Trade butter for olive oil – Instead of sautéing vegetables in butter, use olive oil. Drizzle olive oil on salads, or create a flavorful dip for bread by mixing olive oil with fresh herbs. You’ll lose the cholesterol and gain a dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
- Think less meat – While the Mediterranean Diet rarely includes red meat and promotes eating seafood twice per week, make a gradual transition rather than a sudden shift. Reduce the portion size of meat you serve at each meal, and slowly begin incorporating more vegetarian meals and seafood. Your diet will have less saturated fat and more healthy fats. Related Recipe: Pan-Seared Salmon with Roasted Asparagus
- Eat more vegetables – Fresh vegetables are one of the main food groups of the Mediterranean Diet and should fill half your plate at lunch and dinner. Focus on the vegetables your family already enjoys, and slowly introduce new options. Try a new seasonal vegetable once a week, and be sure to focus on the fresh for the best flavor. Enjoy a variety of preparations, including fresh salads, sautéed, grilled or roasted vegetables, and add vegetables to pizzas, pasta dishes, soups and stews. Related Recipe: Creamy Fettuccine with Broiled Tomatoes
- Choose whole grains – Swap regular pasta, white rice and white bread for whole grain options. Check the ingredient list to be sure the first ingredient listed is “whole.” There are a variety of whole grains to explore, like quinoa, bulgur, whole farro, millet and stone-ground polenta. Whole grains contain more vitamins, minerals and fiber for digestive health. Related Recipe: Quinoa and Herb Summer Salad
- Serve fresh fruit for dessert – Save tradition sweets, like cookies, cake and ice cream, for special occasions, and go for fresh fruit for everyday sweet tooth cravings. Enjoy a variety of fresh fruits in season, like figs, oranges, grapes and berries, or try roasting or poaching your favorite fruits, including pears and apples. If you need a little added sweetness, drizzle with honey or add a scoop of Greek yogurt rather than white sugar or ice cream. Related Recipe: Balsamic and Ginger Glazed Plums