It may sound like just another fad diet, but the Mediterranean diet has actually been proven to be good for you! Have you tried it?
Fad diets come and fad diets go, but some diets have been around long enough to prove their worth! Don't worry, we aren't about to suggest you try the Werewolf Diet (yes, that's a real thing
) or go on a month-long juice-only cleanse. No, we're talking about the Mediterranean diet, regularly hailed as one of the healthiest diets in the world. It's a diet that is heavy in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil. It features fish and poultry over red meat, and red wine is consumed regularly in moderate amounts. There are a few easy ways to follow the Mediterranean diet, and the health benefits are well worth it!
Replace Butter and Margarine with Healthy Oils as Often as Possible
Use olive oil instead of butter and margarine. It's a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Other plant-based oils, such as canola or walnut oil, are also rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
Trade Your Red Meat for Lean Meat
Put down the red meat and get your protein from skinless chicken and turkey, fish, beans, nuts and other plants. You can start the transition slowly -- aim to eat fish twice a week. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are especially good choices, as they are rich in omega-3s. Make the focus of your meals whole grains and vegetables, and treat meat as a flavoring. If you do get a craving for steak, it's okay to indulge occasionally; just keep your portion size to 3-4oz.
Eat Your Veggies
Most people don't actually eat enough vegetables. You should aim for 3-8 servings of veggies a day. Pick veggies in a variety of colors to get a range of antioxidants and vitamins.
Enjoy Your Whole Grains
Experiment with whole grains that are still in their "whole" form and haven't been refined, like quinoa. Supplement your intake with other whole-grain products like whole-wheat bread or pasta. If you find this switch hard to make, try mixtures of half whole-grain and half refined products.
Get Better Snacks
Healthier snacks are vital to any diet. Snack on a handful of almonds, walnuts or sunflower seeds instead of chips or other processed snack foods, which are often loaded with sugars and saturated fats. Calcium-rich low-fat cheese and low-fat plain yogurt with fresh fruit are both great portable snack options.
Eat Fruit for Dessert
Fresh fruit is a healthy way to indulge your sweet tooth. It's generally a good source of fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants. Keep fresh fruit visible at home and keep a few pieces available at work so you have a healthy snack when your stomach starts growling. Most grocery stores offer exotic fruits -- expand your horizons and try out some new ones!
Moderate Your Alcohol Intake
Research has indicated that people who drink modestly are actually less likely to have heart disease than those who abstain entirely. Wine in particular thins the blood and also contains antioxidants that prevent your arteries from taking up LDL cholesterol, a process that leads to plaque buildup. Just remember to consume no more than a glass or two per meal.
Slow Down When You Eat
Eating like a Mediterranean is as much a lifestyle as it is a diet. Rather than eating while you run around doing chores or eating in front of the TV, slow down. Sit at the dinner table with your family. Not only will you enjoy the company and the food more, but eating slowly allows you to be more in tune with your body's hunger and fullness signals. This means you're more likely to eat until you're full, rather than eating until you feel sick.
Do you think this diet sounds a little more realistic than some other fad diets? Are you going to give it a try? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!