The mere mention of the word "Mediterranean" conjures up colorful images of crystal blue seas, white-washed buildings and islands often visited by cruises such as Crete, Malta and Cyprus.
Besides its beauty, the Mediterranean area is also well-known for its cuisine, which has a number of health benefits.
Health care providers and books on wellness commonly recommend this particular diet. So it is important to understand exactly what to eat.
The basics of the diet break down as follows.
People should choose a fresh and vast array of vegetables. Branch out from the typical peas and carrots.
Go for leafy greens (lots of them), zucchini, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and artichoke hearts. Bring home cucumbers, onions, garlic, bell peppers, squash, sweet potatoes and more.
Rotate your vegetables and aim for a serving (or more!) at every meal.
Next, add in some fruit as a snack or dessert.
Use fresh or frozen berries when the sweet tooth monster strikes. Slice up an apple with some almonds.
Blend half of a banana with your greens and protein powder for your morning smoothie. Be careful not to eat more fruit than vegetables – it is about balance.
Learn to eat healthy oils. The Mediterranean diet focuses on olive oil, olives, avocado and healthy nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin and sesame seeds. Peanuts are not really a nut and should be limited.
Fresh cheeses and unsweetened yogurts are a primary dairy/protein choice but only for those who can tolerate dairy. Be careful of how over-processed dairy products are as that is not beneficial for health.
Choose organic/free-range fish, chicken and eggs to be consumed through the week but go light on the red meat. Add in lentils to round out the protein mixture.
Because of the location of the Mediterranean Sea being so near to Italy, wine is often encouraged. However, please drink with moderation as the alcohol has a lot of sugar, so it may do damage to the liver and is not good for the hormone estrogen.