This may be the best meal plan to adopt to your plate
If you’re ready to adopt a diet plan that is both realistic and maintainable, look no further. For the fourth year in a row, the Mediterranean diet has been named the best overall diet to follow, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Criteria from seven different categories were considered when ranking 35 of the most popular diets in the world. Criteria included how easy the plan was to follow, its ability to produce short-term and long-term weight loss, safety, nutritional completeness, and its potential for preventing common chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
RECIPE: Mediterranean Turkey Meatballs
Sound too good to be true? It’s not. The Mediterranean diet doesn’t ban any food groups, making it an easier meal plan to follow than other elimination diets. Let’s explore the foundation of the diet and how to start eating the Mediterranean way.
More Fruits and Vegetables
It’s no surprise that a diet that scored top dog would be one that emphasizes these two food groups. Most Americans don’t eat enough produce. Aiming for five servings daily will aid with many health goals. If five seems like a lot, simply add one more serving to your current eating pattern and continue to work up to the full five.
A diet that still encourages bread? Count me in! If you find yourself lethargic or hungry, the culprit may be a lack of carbs or fiber consumed. Making one switch while grocery shopping will fill your belly without going over your budget. There is a whole-grain option for every wheat product you can think of. Pasta? Yep. Your morning toast? You got it. Pizza crust? Sure thing and it’s even tasty.
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The Mediterranean diet encourages the use of olive oil when cooking. Olive oil contains a hefty dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which can help lower cholesterol. Drizzle and sauté veggies and protein or use as a base for salad dressing. More than likely, you won’t even notice the difference when making this single swap.
Herbs and Spices
Shake it off – the use of salt, that is. Mediterranean cuisine relies heavily on the spice rack, which pumps up the flavor without any added sodium. Turn any basic meal into an impressive dish using fresh mint or rosemary and spices such as ginger and red pepper flakes.
RELATED: Tips to "shake off" the sodium intake
This diet doesn’t eliminate food groups, but it does want you to be considerate about portions and cuts. Aim for two servings of seafood a week, while selecting lean red meat choices. A serving of meat is 3-4 ounces, or about the size of an iPhone.
No harsh rules, no off-limit foods, no pre-packaged meals. It’s understandable why the Mediterranean diet is consistently a top contender on the best-ranked diet list. When a well-rounded approach to eating isn’t restrictive, magic happens. Take a look at your current meal behaviors and start making small changes where you can.
Paige Green received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management at the University of Northern Iowa in 2012. She pursued her passion for nutrition at Iowa State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics during the spring of 2015. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Paige truly sets out to educate individuals on finding a healthy balance in life and her passion for people and nutrition inspires clients of all ages. You can find Paige at the Ames Hy-Vee on Lincoln Way.