Orzo Risotto with Mush­rooms & Swiss Chard 10 sim­ple ways to en­joy the ben­e­fits of a Mediter­ranean diet

Better Nutrition - - NATURAL BEAUTY -

Based on the tra­di­tional diet of Greece, south­ern Italy, and Spain,

the Mediter­ranean diet fo­cuses on high con­sump­tion of veg­eta­bles, fruits, olive oil, legumes, and whole grains, along with mod­er­ate fish, dairy, and red wine con­sump­tion, and in­fre­quent use of meat. It’s a plan worth fol­low­ing: stud­ies show that the Mediter­ranean diet low­ers the risk of heart dis­ease, stroke, cancer, di­a­betes, and early death; more re­cent stud­ies also link it with in­creased brain health in older adults and lower risk of Alzheimer’s dis­ease. Take full ad­van­tage of this healthy eat­ing plan with th­ese 10 sim­ple tips.


We’re not kidding: the cor­ner­stone of the Mediter­ranean diet is lots and lots of veg­eta­bles. Re­search over­whelm­ingly sup­ports the health benefi ts of a plant-heavy diet: one study found that peo­ple who ate seven or more serv­ings of fruit and veg­eta­bles per day had a re­duced risk of dy­ing from cancer and heart dis­ease. In an­other study, more than five serv­ings per day slashed the risk of heart at­tack, stroke, cancer, and early death; and re­searchers es­ti­mated that 10 serv­ings per day could pre­vent up to 7.8 mil­lion pre­ma­ture deaths. Some ideas to try:

Add veg­eta­bles to your break­fast, with an as­para­gus, mush­room, and zuc­chini omelet, or mixed- veg­etable break­fast bur­ri­tos. Turn spinach, shred­ded car­rots, toma­toes, onions, red pep­pers, avo­cado, and hum­mus into a hearty wrap. Layer veg­eta­bles— egg­plant, toma­toes, broc­coli, leeks, sweet pota­toes, and more— into a casse­role, or make a seven- veg­gie stew. Make to­mato sauce with herbs, gar­lic, and olive oil— heat­ing toma­toes with oil makes their heart- pro­tec­tive ly­copene more avail­able to the body.


Beans, peas, and lentils are a sig­nifi cant source of pro­tein in the Mediter­ranean diet, and they’re also one of the best di­etary sources of fi ber— a cup of navy beans, for ex­am­ple, has more pro­tein than two eggs and as much fi ber as nine slices of whole- wheat bread. Legumes are also high in polyphe­nol an­tiox­i­dants and re­sis­tant starch, an in­di­gestible type of starch that has been shown to im­prove gut bac­te­ria, re­duce body weight, and pro­tect against colon cancer and infl am­ma­tory bowel dis­eases. To add more legumes to your diet:

❱ Purée white beans with gar­lic and roasted red pep­pers for a zesty dip. ❱ Sneak red kid­ney beans into veg­etable soups. ❱ Toss French lentils with arugula, toma­toes, red onions, radic­chio, and olive oil for a pro­tein- rich salad. ❱ Turn chick­peas, brown rice, and chopped veg­eta­bles into easy veg­gie burgers.


Fish and seafood are a good catch: they’re high in lean pro­tein, se­le­nium, vi­ta­min B , and vi­ta­min D, and stud­ies 12 show that eat­ing two ounces of fish per day could re­duce risk of death by 12 per­cent. Fatty fish is even bet­ter: sal­mon, tuna, sar­dines, an­chovies, her­ring, and mack­erel are loaded with omega- 3 fats that re­duce the risk of heart dis­ease, lower blood pres­sure, pre­vent car­diac ar­rhyth­mias and sud­den death, re­lieve arthri­tis, im­prove mood, and pro­tect eye health. To get more fish on your dish:

❱ Layer cod or tilapia with as­para­gus, leeks, pep­pers, olives, and herbs; wrap in parch­ment; and bake. ❱ Thread shrimp on skew­ers with mush­rooms, toma­toes, and chunks of zuc­chini, and grill. ❱ Turn canned sal­mon or tuna into sand­wich spreads or dips. ❱ Add scal­lops or left­over cooked fish to pasta with peas, spinach, cherry toma­toes, and basil.


Olive oil, the pri­mary cook­ing and sea­son­ing oil of the Mediter­ranean area, is known for its re­mark­able health benefi ts. It’s high in mo­noun­sat­u­rated fats that pro­tect against car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, stroke, and other dis­eases, and one study found that olive oil re­duced the risk of death from all causes by 26 per­cent. Nuts, olives, and av­o­ca­dos are other good whole- food sources of mo­noun­sat­u­rated fat. To make your oil change easy:

❱ Add avo­cado, olives, nuts, and seeds to sal­ads and sand­wiches. ❱ Make your own home­made mayo with pas­tured eggs or silken tofu, olive oil, and lemon juice. ❱ Com­bine 1 part soft­ened but­ter with 3 parts olive oil for a health­ier spread for cooked pasta, veg­eta­bles, or bread. ❱ Use olive oil and bal­samic vine­gar in place of bot­tled salad dress­ing to slash sodium.


It’s high in fi ber, low in fat, and loaded with an­tiox­i­dants. And stud­ies show that eat­ing whole fruit is as­so­ci­ated with a re­duced risk of di­a­betes. An­other study found that ap­ples and pears sig­nifi cantly re­duced the risk of stroke. Serve fruit for dessert, or snack on it be­tween meals in­stead of chips or cook­ies. Some more sweet ideas:

❱ Driz­zle black­ber­ries with Greek yo­gurt and sprin­kle with chopped wal­nuts. ❱ Poach pears in white wine, vanilla, star anise, and honey, and driz­zle with crème fraiche. ❱ Toss grape­fruit seg­ments with pome­gran­ate seeds, blood or­anges, and pis­ta­chios. ❱ Serve a plat­ter of grapes, sliced ap­ples, and fresh fi gs with a se­lec­tion of high- qual­ity cheeses.

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