The traditional Mediterranean diet menu originated in countries which border the Mediterranean Sea. These countries offer a host of cultural dishes and a healthy lifestyle that provide the foundation for a wholesome and nourishing diet.
Mediterranean Diet Basics
When you make up your grocery list to buy items to make meals on the Mediterranean diet menu, you'll have a list loaded with foods from the plant world. That's right. Less animal products and more vegetables and fruits. Your list will include things like:
- fruits - Fresh fruit is eaten as a daily dessert, rather than sweets containing sugars and honey
- whole grains
The Mediterranean diet is not a fad. It's a healthy choice because it is low in saturated fat. If your foods are prepared correctly, less than 8 percent of total calories come from saturated fat. One reason for this lower percentage of saturated fats is that the diet contains limited amounts of foods from animal sources. Plant foods composes the core of what is eaten. However, don't fret, this is not a vegetarian diet by any means. Instead, the Mediterranean diet finds a balance which supplies vitamin B12 and iron while keeping saturated fats at a minimum.
Other items to stock in your kitchen when following the Mediterranean diet include:
- Olive oil
- Cheese and yogurt
- Fish and poultry
- Red meat (eaten in small amounts mostly in sauce and not a main course)
- Wine (low to moderate amounts)
Healthy Mediterranean Diet Tips
As you put together a Mediterranean menu, follow these tips:
- Choose olive oil for your main fat source
- Choose whole grains rather than grains which have been refined or processed
- Limit unhealthy saturated and trans fats
- Fill your plate and your belly with veggies
- Eat fresh fruit for dessert.
- Eat fish and poultry as your main sources of protein
- Limit red meat
- Add small amounts of yogurt and cheese to your diet as toppings or side dishes
Mediterranean Diet Menu Sample
- 1/3 cantaloupe
- 1 slice whole-grain toast
- 2 tsp peanut butter
- 1 apple
- 2 c. fresh spinach salad
- 2 oz. grilled chicken breast
- 1 tbs. olive oil
- 1 tbs. vinaigrette
- 1 small whole-wheat pita
- 1 apple
- 5 oz. fish
- 1 small sweet potato
- 2-3 c. broccoli, carrots, peppers, onions sautéed in garlic and olive oil
- 1 c. fresh fruit
- 1 small handful of nuts to be eaten midmorning or mid-afternoon.
Create Your Own Mediterranean Menus
The trouble with pre-made menus is that often they include foods you don't like. Build your own healthy Mediterranean style menu by following these guidelines in making careful food choices that fit the cuisine and your taste buds:
- Eat plenty of leafy greens, fresh fruits and vegetables.
- When eating bread, choose those made with whole grains and flours. These less-processed, whole grains supply sustained energy for longer periods.
- For dessert, choose fresh fruit or something that supplies one serving of fruit. This can be something like homemade fruit sorbet or baked apple slices sprinkled sparingly with cinnamon and sugar.
Plan for Eating Out: You'll be surprised at how many items you can find on a restaurant menu. As a rule of thumb, when eating out, choose items from the menu that offer plenty of veggies but are not loaded with cream sauces or cheese. For example, you can order a vegetarian pasta tossed in olive oil sprinkled lightly with Parmesan cheese. Of course you always have steamed fish or baked chicken with a salad or steamed vegetables too. Your options are plenty.
Resources For Building Your Menu
- Mediterranean Diet Recipes: Main Courses
- Mediterranean Diet Recipes: Salads
- Mediterranean Diet Recipes: Soups
- Mediterranean Diet Recipes: Appetizers
Mediterranean Diet Benefits
The Lyon Heart Diet Study attributes the Mediterranean diet with significantly reducing heart attacks and strokes. The Mediterranean diet uses fish and poultry as its major sources of protein. This along with the high plant food content, is attributed with an overall reduction of coronary events in the group studied. Coronary events in this group dropped by 73 percent.While the diet is a healthy one, it's important to remember the importance of daily [Exercise Ball Free Workouts exercise] whether you're trying to lose weight, maintain your weight or just striving for improved your health. Before starting any diet or exercise program, though, it is best to check with your doctor for his or her recommendations.