As with any diet, there is more to just eating wholesome fresh food. Daily physical activity and sharing meals with others also make a diet successful and help with having an appreciation for the pleasures of eating healthy and delicious food.
Some of the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet include preventing heart disease by limiting refined breads, processed foods and red meat. The Mediterranean diet also helps to keep you agile by reducing the risk of developing frailty and also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia by improving cholesterol, blood sugar and overall blood vessel health. In addition, the Mediterranean diet is high in fiber which is digested slowly and prevents swings in blood sugar.
What are some takeaways from the Mediterranean diet?
– Every meal should consist of fresh fruit or vegetables, whole grains (whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa and bulgur), olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes (lentils, dried peas and beans), seeds, herbs and spices.
– Eat fish at least twice a week.
– Eat moderate amounts of cheese and yogurt daily.
– Eat moderate portions of poultry and eggs every two days or weekly.
– Eat red meat sparingly.
– Drink plenty of water each day.
– Make a vegetarian meal once a week.
It helps to make incremental changes to your diet:
Instead of this:
Sandwiches with white bread
Eggs with cheese
Whole grain tortillas
Cottage cheese with fresh fruit
Eggs with salsa
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts: 4 (5 oz each)
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes
¼ c olive tapenade
¼ c chopped fresh basil leaves
¼ tsp salt
Place chicken breasts on a sheet of waxed paper, sprinkle with 1/8 tsp salt, 2 tablespoons of basil and press lightly. Turn chicken breasts over. Sprinkle remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt over chicken; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons basil. Cover with another sheet of waxed paper. Pound chicken with rolling pin or meat mallet to 1/2-inch thickness.
In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts. Cook 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until golden brown on outside and no longer pink in center. Remove chicken to plate; cover to keep warm.
Return skillet to medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and tapenade to skillet. Cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until tomatoes just begin to soften and mixture is heated through. Serve tomato mixture over chicken; top with remaining 2 tablespoons basil.
by Asha Gullapalli, MS RD LDN CD