The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet isn’t new by any means. In fact, it has been the diet for the peoples of the Mediterranean Basin for centuries. I recently spent 2 weeks in Croatia where this isn’t a “diet” like we are used to here in the United States, but just a part of everyday life.

Here are just a few of the reasons why the Mediterranean diet can be beneficial for you. For starters, research has shown that people living in the Mediterranean Basin have some of the lowest rates of chronic disease and some of the highest life expectancies in the world. The diet is also good for your heart, and can help decrease your risk of depression and dementia — all pretty great benefits if you ask me!

The diet puts an emphasis on produce, fish/poultry, whole grains and healthy fats. I noticed that overall, portion sizes were smaller, the meals were lighter and at the end I felt satisfied, not full.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to shop the perimeter of your neighborhood Oliver’s Market, eat seasonally and share as many meals with family and friends as possible. And, remember, there is no “right” or “one” way to this diet. There are many countries around the Mediterranean Sea, and they all don’t eat the same things.

So what does “going Mediterranean” look like? It might be easier than you think:

Load up on Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh, seasonal produce is the star of this diet. Here at Oliver’s Market we always strive to be first to market with the freshest seasonal produce. Try to eat 5 to 10 servings per day. One cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked is one serving. Fresh green salads loaded with vegetables, or sautéed greens such as Swiss Chard or spinach are excellent options.

Healthy Fats are Great

Olives and olive oil are a main part of the foundation of this diet. You want to aim for 4 to 6 servings per day. What constitutes a serving will vary depending on what form you use. One serving could be anything from 1 tsp of oil to 5 whole olives or even 1/8 of an avocado. Here at Oliver’s Market we have a wide selection of California Olive Oil Council certified Extra Virgin Olive Oils that are the perfect addition to your meals.

Nuts and Legumes Make the Perfect Snack

Nuts and legumes are a great source of fiber and protein, and also provide your body with antioxidants and healthy fats. About a half cup of hummus twice a week and a handful of nuts daily are tasty options.

Add Fish to your Weekly Dinner Rotation

Try to make some sort of fish your dinner main 2 to 3 times a week. A 4 ounce serving is ideal, which is about the size of a checkbook. Most types of fish are versatile when it comes to the cooking method and can be steamed, baked or grilled. Lean meats and poultry are good too, in moderation.

Do Have Dairy

Incorporate dairy from cultured milk into your diet. This can include kefir, yogurt and fresh curd cheeses (like ricotta). Cultured milk products are easier for your body to digest and they contain beneficial bacteria that contribute to digestive health. Recommended: one to three servings per day. A serving is one cup of milk or yogurt and 1 ounce of cheese.

Wise Up to Grains

Look for whole wheat grains, not refined ones which can cause havoc with your blood sugar. Four small daily portions of things like whole-wheat bread, pasta made with quinoa or sourdough bread are all great options. You can even get creative and swap out grains in a dish. Think spaghetti squash instead of noodles.

Don’t forget Herbs & Spices

They are packed full of plant compounds that contain antioxidants as well as inflammation fighting effects (Think turmeric). Sage, rosemary and parsley are a few other healthy choices that will also make your dishes taste even better!

Think About What you Drink

Water should be your go-to drink on a daily basis. After a meal in Italy, an espresso is often enjoyed to help aid with digestion. Antioxidant-rich green tea with mint is the choice in North Africa.

When consumed in moderation, wine is also a part of the Mediterranean Diet. Red wine in particular has a high level of polyphenols. These polyphenols help to lower “bad” levels of cholesterol and raise the “good” ones. 1 to 2 glasses of wine per day is ok.

Eat Locally as much as Possible

By eating locally grown foods from each season, you will increase the range of nutrients your body takes in throughout the course of a year.

Dine With Friends & Family

Having relaxed meals with friends and family is a big part of life in the Mediterranean. The positive attitude and atmosphere towards eating helps improve digestion and lower stress levels as well.

It isn’t a quick trip to the Mediterranean (Jet lag, no thanks!), but you can feel like you’re there by eating the cuisine. California, and more specifically Sonoma County, are the perfect places to find an abundance of Mediterranean foods. So, follow these guidelines, find a recipe and enjoy!

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