23 feb 2015 nourish 682x408

NOURISH

The Mediterranean Diet: Travel the world one forkful at a time

The Mediterranean diet is not a specific diet plan or program, but it is a collection of eating habits followed by people in the Mediterranean region including Greece, southern Italy and Spain.

Along with reducing the risk for heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular diseases, the Mediterranean diet may be helpful in reducing the risk of cancer, obesity, type II diabetes and other chronic illnesses.

Five tips for incorporating a Mediterranean-style diet:

1. Eat the rainbow  
Plan your meals with fruit and veggies as the center. The goal should be seven to nine servings a day, but even five servings a day would improve most people's diet. Buying in-season fruit and veggies will give you the most nutritional bang for your buck.

Rainbow food selection

2. Get nuts about plant proteins
Nuts, seeds and legumes provide healthy protein and fiber without the fattiness that comes along with animal protein. Not only that, but legumes are inexpensive and versatile.

Nut selection

3. Shop the sea instead of land
Opt for animal proteins other than red meat such as fish or poultry. Red meat is high in saturated fat while cold-water fat is high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower blood pressure and inflammation.

Seafood

4. Swap out sugary sweets
Fruit is often served as dessert in the Mediterranean diet. Without that high content of refined sugar that our typical dessert choices are, choosing a juicy peach, a couple of kiwis  or strawberries in plain Greek yogurt is a much healthier option—not to mention that it will also boost your daily servings of fruit!

Raspberries

5. Whatever the weather, keep moving  
The lifestyle in the Mediterranean region also places an emphasis on being physically active. While our Minnesota climate is different from that of Greece, Spain or Italy, there are plenty of ways to fit activity into your day. Changing your routine to include a brisk walk over the lunch hour offers great health benefits.

Couple dragging a sled

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