The Mediterranean diet is a pattern of eating that is traditional in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea such as France, Spain, Greece, and Italy. The diet has been linked with lower rates of heart disease, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. It can lower blood pressure and inflammation, and improve HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
There is no one-size-fits-all Mediterranean diet as practiced by the French. But, in general, the French Mediterranean diet includes:
- Plenty of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts
- Whole grains
- Fish and seafood
- Moderate amounts of dairy and poultry
- Red wine in moderation
- Heart-healthy fats, such as olive oil or avocados
The French Mediterranean diet is not a weight-loss diet, but it can help you manage your weight. The key is to focus on eating mostly whole, unprocessed foods.
Here are some tips to help you get started on your perfect Mediterranean diet the French way:
1. Fill your plate with vegetables and fruits.
Aim for at least half of your plate to be filled with these healthy foods. Choose from a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to get the most benefit.
2. Include whole grains at meals.
Look for whole-grain versions of bread, pasta, rice, and cereal. Or, try new grains such as quinoa or bulgur wheat.
3. Add fish and seafood to your diet.
Eat fish at least twice a week. Good choices include salmon, tuna, herring, and trout. Shrimp, calamari, and mussels are also good options. The benefits of eating fish are due to the omega-3 fatty acids they contain.
4. Use healthy fats in cooking and at the table.
Olive oil is a key component of the Mediterranean diet. Use it when cooking or drizzle it over salads or cooked vegetables. Other healthy fats to include in your diet are avocados, nuts, and seeds.
5. Limit dairy and poultry.
Choose low-fat or non-fat versions of these foods. Or, enjoy them in smaller portions. Dairy can be harmful in large amounts, but it can also be a good source of calcium and other nutrients. Red meat has been linked to various health problems, so it is best to limit it or avoid it altogether.
6. Enjoy a glass of wine with meals.
Red wine is traditionally part of the Mediterranean and French diet. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. The benefits of red wine are due to the antioxidants the drink contains.
7. Get active.
Physical activity is an important part of a healthy Mediterranean lifestyle. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Walking, jogging, swimming, and biking are all good options.
Mediterranean Diet Food List
Here are some of the best foods to eat while on the Mediterranean diet!
- Vegetables: Artichokes, eggplant, fennel, garlic, green beans, kale, leeks, lettuce, okra, onions, peppers, spinach, squash, tomatoes
- Fruits: Apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, dates, figs, grapes, melons, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries, cantaloupe
- Legumes: Beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts
- Fish and seafood: Anchovies, bass, carp, catfish, clam, cod, crab, lobster, monkfish, salmon, scallops, shrimp, sole, squid, trout, tuna
- Dairy: Cheese, yogurt
- Heart-healthy fats: Avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds
- Herbs and spices: Basil, bay leaves, black pepper, cilantro, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, ginger, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme
- Poultry: Chicken, turkey, duck
- Red meat: Lamb, pork, beef
- Beverages: Water, green tea, herbal tea, red wine, white wine
- Other: Honey, dark chocolate, olives, tofu
The Mediterranean diet is a great way to eat healthy and enjoy delicious food.
Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan
Here is a sample meal plan for one day on the Mediterranean diet:
- Whole-wheat toast with almond butter and honey
- Yogurt with fresh berries and a handful of almonds
- Green tea or coffee
- Tuna salad with tomatoes, onions, and olives on whole-wheat toast
- Carrot sticks and celery with hummus
- Water or sparkling water with lemon
- Grilled salmon with roasted vegetables
- Green salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing
- Water or red wine
- An apple with peanut butter
- A small piece of dark chocolate
- A handful of nuts or seeds
- Hummus with vegetables or whole-wheat crackers
Does the Mediterranean diet work for weight loss?
The Mediterranean diet is an effective weight-loss tool. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who followed the diet lost more weight than those who followed a low-fat diet. The Mediterranean diet is also effective in reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
The Mediterranean diet can be a delicious way to eat healthily and enjoy your food. By following these tips, you can make the Mediterranean diet part of your everyday lifestyle.