International Mediterranean Diet Month

Holly Johnson, dietetic intern, Virginia Tech - May 11, 2018

May is International Mediterranean Diet Month and here at Food & Friends, we tailor our meals to follow the principles of this heralded way of eating. The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes foods high in antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fats, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, herbs, spices, nuts, fish, and olive oil. Additionally, it recommends eating yogurt, cheese, poultry and eggs in moderation and red meat and sweets much less frequently than the average American diet.

The Mediterranean Diet because offers wonderful health benefits associated with lowering your risk for several chronic diseases. Here is what following the Mediterranean Diet can do for you:1

  • Aids in weight loss or weight maintenance
  • Lowers the level of LDL cholesterol in the body, which is the bad cholesterol that builds in your arteries
  • Reduces risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Reduces incidence of cancer
  • Protects against developing diabetes
  • Lowers risk for developing Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease

The reason this diet is so beneficial is because it is high in vitamins and minerals, high in healthy fats, low in salt, and low in refined foods. Here are unique characteristics of this diet and what it does for our bodies:2

  • Omega-3s: These are fatty acids found in fish, shellfish, walnuts, and olive oil. Consuming omega-3s regularly can decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Antioxidants: These come from many foods in this diet. High levels of antioxidants can reduce your risk for developing Parkinson’s disease and cancer.
  • Fiber: Due to this diet revolving around high amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts, it is very high in fiber. Fiber can protect against the development of Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and inflammation. It also keeps you fuller longer!

Mediterranean Shopping List:3

Here are some items you can buy at the grocery store to make your own Mediterranean meals!

  • Whole Grains
    • barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, couscous, faro, oatmeal, polenta, quinoa, wheat berries, whole grain, stone-ground breads, rolls, tortillas, and pasta
  • Fruits
    • apples, bananas, berries, cherries, citrus, dates, figs, grapes, melons, nectarines, peaches, pears, pomegranates
  • Vegetables
    • artichokes, asparagus, avocados, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, green beans, green leafy vegetables, lettuce, mushrooms, olives, onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, squash, tomatoes, turnips
  • Legumes, nuts, and seeds
    • almonds, black-eyed peas, cashews, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), hazelnuts, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, split peas, walnuts
  • Herbs and spices
    • basil, chili powder, chilies, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, dill, garlic, ginger, fennel seed, marjoram, mint, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, pepper, rosemary, saffron, sage, tarragon, thyme
  • Fish and shellfish
    • Clams, crab, halibut, lobster, mussels, salmon, scallops, shrimp, sole, tilapia, trout, tuna
  • Dairy products
    • low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, reduced-fat cheese
  • Oils
    • canola, extra-virgin olive, grapeseed, and sesame

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