6 Simple Tips for Eating the Mediterranean Way

The prevalence of cardiovascular disease is considerably less in Mediterranean countries than in the U.S., and diet is a big reason. The benefits of following a Mediterranean-type diet are impressive: The diet can reduce cardiovascular events by 72% and lower total mortality by 60%. So, learning to eat the Mediterranean way is a heart-healthy choice that makes a lot of sense for a lot of people.

What Eating Mediterranean-Style Means

Although no single set of guidelines exists for what constitutes a “traditional Mediterranean diet,” most dieticians and doctors agree on the key components. A Mediterranean diet is high in fruits, vegetables, beans, whole-grain carbohydrates, nuts, fish and monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocado and nuts. Dairy-product consumption is low-to-moderate and little red meat is eaten. Alcohol (especially red wine) is consumed in moderation.

A Mediterranean diet involves far more than enjoying lots of extra-virgin olive oil. It starts when you get up in the morning and guides your eating patterns throughout the day. Here are six simple tips to help you get started with a Mediterranean diet:

  1. Never eat breakfast without fruit.
  2. Eat whole grains or vegetables in every meal.
  3. Emphasize fresh and natural, unprocessed foods.
  4. Enjoy colorful foods – they contain many of the important vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients that control inflammation and support arterial health.
  5. Avoid giving animal-based foods a starring role – they should be supporting players at best – perhaps even “extras” on the plate.
  6. Exercise! Even a short walk after eating can improve your blood lipid and sugar levels.

Stop Before You’re Full

Finally, remember that feeling full is your body’s way of saying that you have eaten too much. So, stop eating when you are satisfied, not full. For additional information about eating the Mediterranean way, be sure to check out the Mayo Clinic’s informative overview of the diet and the elements of Mediterranean-style cooking.