Often, it feels like there's a new "full-proof" diet trend hitting the airwaves every week. However, while most fad diets come and go–one has not only stood the test of time, but has also stood up to detailed research: the Mediterranean diet.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
Inspired by traditional flavors and cooking styles of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, this diet is big on flavor and simple on “rules.” In fact, following the Mediterranean diet only requires an emphasis on a few key tenants:
- Eat lots of plant-based foods, especially fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Replace butter and salt with olive oil and herbs
- Eat fish at least twice per week
- Limit red meat and processed meat
- Aim for healthy fats, like nuts and seeds
- Eat poultry, eggs and dairy products in moderation
- Avoid added sugars and processed foods
- Enjoy a glass of red wine occasionally
Best of all, following the Mediterranean diet doesn’t require any calorie or nutrient counting — just eating fresh, nutrient-dense food in moderation.
What are the benefits of the Mediterranean diet?
While most diets claim weight loss as their main benefit, the Mediterranean diet boasts many other health benefits, all backed by extensive research. The most widely touted is a reduced risk of heart disease, but there is also evidence to suggest that eating in a traditionally Mediterranean style can reduce your risk of cancer, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, beyond simply reducing risk of many chronic illnesses, the Mediterranean diet has also been associated with longevity in general.
By focusing on healthy fats found in olive oil and fatty fish over saturated fats and trans fats, the Mediterranean diet is believed to help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which can build up in your arteries over time and cause a cardiovascular event.
3 Tips to Get Started With the Mediterranean Diet
If you’re ready to start eating in a more Mediterranean way, but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve got you covered. Here are three tips to integrate a more traditionally Mediterranean style of eating into your diet.
1. Make easy replacements
Rather than overhaul your entire menu, look for easy replacements that won’t feel like a sacrifice. For instance, replace your taco night ground beef with wild black cod, and serve with brown rice instead of white. Or, opt to make your own pizza at home with whole-wheat crust and fresh vegetables, rather than ordering from a chain.
2. Buy in bulk
Stocking up on some of the central components of the Mediterranean diet will make it easier to stick to your plan in a pinch. Opt for the large jug of extra virgin olive oil, buy nuts from the bulk bins and order enough wild-caught salmon to last several weeks. For those who want to stock up on seafood, our curated packs are the perfect long-term meal prep option.
3. Start slow
As with any major changes, easing into new habits is the best way to ensure they stick. Start small with one or two meals per week that prioritize the nutrients and flavors central to the Mediterranean diet. Remember, this isn’t meant to be a quick weight loss solution — instead, it should be viewed as a clean, nutrient-dense way of eating for your long-term health.
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