By Georgia Orcutt
May is National Mediterranean Diet Month and while you may not be able to shop at an open market in Cannes, you can bring the remarkable health benefits and affordable Mediterranean style of eating into your own kitchen.
Just try these eight easy tips from the food and nutrition non-profit Oldways and its Mediterranean Foods Alliance.
But first, a little background: The Mediterranean Diet is an eating pattern based on the traditional foods of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.
It is all about delicious foods, meals with friends and family, and daily exercise.
Related: 5 Foods that Can Flatten Your Belly
Backed by more than half a century of scientific study, is has been validated by The New Dietary Guidelines for Americans as one of the most thoroughly researched models for healthy living.
Now, onto those tips:
1. Eat lots of vegetables. From a simple plate of sliced fresh tomatoes topped with crumbled feta cheese to healthy pizzas, vegetables are vitally important to the fresh tastes of the Mediterranean Diet. Try filling half your plate with them.
2. Change the way you think about meat. If you eat meat, add small strips of sirloin to a vegetable sauté, or garnish a dish of pasta with diced prosciutto. As a main course, eat 3 ounces or less of chicken or lean meat.
3. Always eat breakfast. Start your day with fiber-rich foods such as fruit and whole grains that can keep you feeling pleasantly full for hours. Layer granola, yogurt, and fruit, or mash half an avocado with a fork and spread it on a slice of whole grain toast.
4. Eat seafood twice a week. Fish such as tuna, herring, salmon, and sardines are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and shellfish including
mussels, oysters, and clams have similar benefits for brain and heart health.
5. Cook a vegetarian meal one night a week. Build these meals around beans, whole grains, and vegetables, and heighten the flavor with fragrant herbs and spices. Now, try two nights per week.
Related: Vegetarian Roasted Corn Tacos
6. Use good fats. Include sources of healthy fats in daily meals, especially extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, olives, and avocados.
7. Enjoy some dairy products. Eat Greek or plain yogurt, and try small amounts of a variety of cheeses.
8. For dessert, eat fresh fruit. Choose from a wide range of delicious fresh fruits — from fresh figs and oranges to pomegranates, grapes and apples. Save sweets like cookie and ice cream for a special treat.
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For some Med inspiration this May, check out Oldways’ “Dietitian-A-Day-for-the-Month-of-May,” where 31 well-known health professionals will provide personal stories and recipes on The Oldways Table blog.
Georgia Orcutt is a program manager for Oldways, a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization, with a mission to guide people to good health through heritage. Oldways is well-known for creating the Whole Grain Stamp and the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.