Hopefully you are convinced (as I am) that the Mediterranean diet is fantastic. It has proven to be a healthy way of life for many people – why not you? Unlike other diets such as the Atkins diet or Paleo diet there is little debate over whether or not it is good for you.
Of course, we have established that it is also quite different from other diets because it is more about food choices and cooking methods – a way of eating – rather than focusing on restrictions. In fact, it doesn’t really even talk about portion control. Although, I do recommend that you use good sense and eat moderately.
Other than that, this is one of the best diets on the planet. It’s tasty, easy to follow, and has multiple health benefits, such as: reducing your risk of getting nasty diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Also – if you need to lower your blood pressure and bad cholesterol . . . the Mediterranean diet is for you. If you want to live a long and healthy life . . . you got it! The Mediterranean diet is for you.
It you are focusing on clean eating, this is a diet that allows you to follow that philosophy, eat well, and enjoy the food.
The diet itself is quite simple and very flexible. You should be able to find most of the food at your local supermarket.
Mediterranean Diet Shopping List
The diet can be broken down into a few groups, which makes it easy to shop:
- Whole grains
- Healthy oils & fats
- Nuts and seeds
- Vegetables and fruits
- Yogurt and cheese
- Herbs and spices
That’s pretty much it. There may be a few other items, but for the most part, if you stick to these eight categories, you will be eating healthy.
Please notice it says “whole grains.” In fact, look for the word “whole” or 100% whole wheat or whole grain on the label. Examples would be whole grain bread or whole grain pasta. Good whole grain items would be: pasta, tortillas, bread, oatmeal, cereals, polenta, brown rice, quinoa, barley and pita.
Whole wheat bread dipped in olive oil is a tasty treat.
Healthy oils are a key ingredient In the Mediterranean diet. Replace butter with healthy fats – especially extra-virgin olive oil, which is excellent for cooking and on salads.
Other suggested oils are: canola, grape seed, sesame, and avocado oil. In the Mediterranean diet, the staple oil used is olive oil. Oils have lots of calories, so try to limit yourself to no more than three tablespoons per day.
Keep the oils in a cool, dark place so that they last longer.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are another group of healthy fats. You must be a little cautious with this group, they are calorie dense. Don’t go nuts with the nuts. Consume them in moderation or you will end up adding pounds you do not want.
A handful a day will provide our body with protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Buy them in bulk and pack them in small snack bags – limiting yourself to one bag per day.
Almonds, cashews, flax, sunflower seeds, walnuts and pine nuts are all good choices.
Vegetables and Fruits
These are nutrition-packed foods filled with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Always buy fresh, organic produce when it is available. Seven to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables should be eaten daily.
Frozen fruits and veggies are also fine as long as they are quick frozen with nothing added. Avoid canned vegetables, if possible. If you must use canned, be they are low sodium.
Vegetables – you have many choices: All the green leafy vegetables, plus broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, celery, onions, radishes, tomatoes, squash, beets, mustard greens, avocados, green peppers, etc. Obviously, it is a long list!
Fruits are eaten in place of sweets on this diet. Recommended are: apples, cherries, dates, peaches, kiwi, mango, papaya, grapefruit, oranges, melons, and strawberries. Again . . . buy organic if at all possible; or, you may be ingesting pesticides that are harmful to your body. If not organic, wash extremely well and peel if possible.
Yogurt and Cheese
Dairy is not a major focus on the diet. It is usually eaten in the form of yogurt and cheese. Both are good options as a calcium source. Stay with whole natural cheeses and plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt (need sweet, add a little honey).
Seafood is heavily consumed in the Mediterranean region. Shrimp, salmon, cod, clams, tilapia, tuna, sardines, scallops and crab are excellent seafood choices and are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Eggs are also eaten as a source of protein and a regular part of the diet. Chicken is also served on occasion. Red meat is eaten rarely – so go very easy on this one.
Lentils and Beans
These are high in protein but low in fats and calories. You have many choices: lentils, chickpeas, clack beans, pinto beans and white beans.
Herbs and Spices
Use fresh or dried herbs and spices to season your food and enhance the flavors. You will not need to use salt or unhealthy fats to make your food tasty. Garlic, mint, cumin, coriander, parsley, basil, oregano, cilantro and pepper are good choices.
Don’t forget the garlic – a favorite in the Mediterranean Region.
I know this isn’t one of the categories – and is optional on the diet. But if you enjoy good red wine, a glass each evening is encouraged (one for women and no more than two for men).
That pretty much sums it up. The diet is primarily focused on fresh fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and seafood with limited poultry and practically no red meat plus minimal sweets – all good reasons why it is so healthy.
Shop wisely and ENJOY!