HEALTHY EATING made easy
Orzo Risotto with Mushrooms & Swiss Chard 10 simple ways to enjoy the benefits of a Mediterranean diet
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.
1 DOUBLE ( OR TRIPLE) YOUR VEGGIES
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.
2 LEARN TO LOVE LEGUMES
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.
3 GET HOOKED ON FISH
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.
4 CHANGE YOUR OIL
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.
5 EAT FRUIT FOR DESSERT
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.