Mediterranean diets: What’s all the fuss?

Janine Rywak - Contributing columnist

The latest trend in weight loss and heart-healthy diets is the Mediterranean diet. Everyone is touting the Med way as the way to go for better health. Even Jill on “The Young and the Restless” was put on a Mediterranean diet last week after she had a heart attack.

So, what’s all the fuss? According to health experts, eating like those who live in the Mediterranean region has been shown to promote health and decrease risk of many chronic diseases. The Mediterranean-style eating pattern incorporates the basics of healthy eating that are traditionally practiced in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.

And no, we’re not talking about eating at The Olive Garden. We are talking about changing to a healthier eating pattern, setting limits, and shifting to more nutritious foods and beverages that are satisfying and nutritious.

Here are major points of eating the Med way.

Get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Choose a variety of colors and eat more dark green leafy vegetables. Eat primarily plant-based foods. Replace red meat with plant-based proteins, such as beans and legumes often.

Choose whole grain foods such as oatmeal, brown rice and popcorn. When choosing bread and pasta, look for “whole” in the first ingredient on the ingredient list. Choose at least three ounces of nuts and seeds per week, while keeping within your calorie budget. Avoid candied, honey-roasted and heavily salted nuts and seeds.

Choose olive oil. Replace solid fats like butter and margarine, as well as other oils, with olive oils. Use it for cooking, in dressings and marinades. Aim for 4 tablespoons a day, while keeping within your calorie budget. Use herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods.

Eat seafood at least three times per week. Include fatty fish, but avoid fried fish. Eat white-meat poultry at least twice a week. Limit red meat to two or three times a month. Be physically active with family and friends. Aim for at least 150 minutes per week or 30 minutes per day.

Limit sweets to no more than three servings a week. Rarely choose fast food and highly processed food. And drink red wine in moderation, which is no more than five ounces for women and ten ounces for men per day. And no, they told Jill on TV she couldn’t have any alcohol. Made her go cold turkey. So, there.

That’s the fuss.

Janine Rywak is director of the Anson County Cooperative Extension.

Janine Rywak

Contributing columnist

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