Of all the eating plans around the world, the one that always lands on top of the list of healthiest is the Mediterranean diet. Rich with whole grains, lean proteins, and fresh fruits and veggies, it’s more than a diet: It’s a way of life. It’s easy to follow with lots of fabulous recipes you can incorporate into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.
It’s not only about dropping a few pounds, it’s about getting healthier, so forget fad diets and discover an eating plan you can embrace for a lifetime. The Mediterranean diet is about real foods, and tasty recipes your whole family will love. The trick is to make sure you have the right foods on hand to get you started.
The Mediterranean diet is a healthy way to eat, and with this food list, you’ll always have something delicious.
Why the Mediterranean diet?
A Mediterranean diet embraces the healthy eating habits and traditions of people from countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. There are a total of 18 countries in the Mediterranean, including Italy, Greece, Spain, Turkey, Morocco, and France. The traditional Mediterranean diet typically includes:
- An abundant amount of fruits, vegetables, bread, grains, pasta, potatoes, beans, nuts, and seeds
- Olive oil as the primary fat source (rather than butter or even other types of plant-based oils)
- Dairy products — cheese, Greek yogurt, and more
- Fish, poultry, and other lean proteins in low-to-moderate amounts
- Wine — in moderation — commonly paired with meals
- Fruit as a dessert instead of typical sweets
The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest eating plans around. In fact, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends it for its ability to help prevent heart disease and stroke, in addition to reducing your risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity.
The 10 Mediterranean diet foods you need to have on hand in your pantry or fridge
The trick to getting your Mediterranean eating plan off to a good start is ensuring you have all of the right ingredients on hand for creating tasty (and healthy) breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes. We’re here to help.
Add these items to your shopping list and you’ll be ready to whip up a week’s worth of yummy meals.
- Artisan cheeses: In moderation, cheese makes everything better. Your Mediterranean diet favorites will be even more delicious when you add a bit of briny feta, salty parmesan, or creamy mozzarella.
- Beans: Stock up on beans including chickpeas, cannellini, fava, kidney beans, and lentils. Beans provide fiber and protein and are low-calorie, too. Dried beans take longer to prepare, so always keep cans on hand in your pantry to add to salads, stews, soups, dips, and more.
- Dried fruit: Many Mediterranean recipes incorporate dried fruits in both savory and sweet dishes, so keep a supply of apricots, cherries, cranberries, figs, raisins, and prunes on hand.
- Extra virgin olive oil: As a dressing for salads, a finishing oil for veggies, and even for dipping crusty Italian bread, you’ll find countless uses for extra virgin olive oil when you’re embracing a Mediterranean eating plan. Plus, research indicates it can help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Fish: Omega-3s are an important component of the Mediterranean diet, so keep your freezer and fridge packed with salmon, shrimp, and mussels. Although fresh is always better, having canned tuna, salmon, anchovies, clams, and sardines in your pantry will make it easy to whip up a quick tuna salad or add salty anchovy flavor to a pasta sauce.
- Greek yogurt: Loaded with protein, Greek yogurt can be the star ingredient for creamy sauces, tasty dips, and decadent desserts.
- Olives: In pasta, salads, or over chicken (a little cacciatore anyone?), olives — both black and green — make everything taste better.
- Onions and garlic: Virtually every flavor base of your new eating plan includes onions, garlic, or both. They add a distinct, aromatic flavor to any recipe, not to mention a bevy of health and medicinal benefits.
- Tomatoes: From fresh-off-the-vine to sun-dried, canned, paste, and sauce, there’s practically no end to what you can do with tomatoes.
- Whole grains: What’s a Mediterranean diet without pasta? Of course, pasta is a big part of Mediterranean cuisine, but you should also keep wheat, bulgar, farro, millet, and whole-grain cornmeal around for healthy and wholesome breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas.
Get ready to start a whole new way to eat that’s healthier, tastier, and better for you than any fad diet could ever hope to be. You’ll feel better, look better, and your body will thank you for it, too. Pack your culinary bags and get ready for a trip to the Mediterranean.
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