Rich in whole grains, fish, fruits and vegetables, the Mediterranean style diet has been widely shown to be good for your heart. Though 40 percent of its calories come from fat, most of those fats are unsaturated—the good kind.
Recent studies show the diet’s whole-food approach can lead to lasting weight loss, especially for people who exercise regularly:
- A study from the University of Naples found the Mediterranean diet “can be a useful tool to reduce body weight,” especially when combined with an increase in physical activity, as well as a careful restriction of overall calories.
- One two-year study found a Mediterranean diet with a low-carb component helped people reach their weight-loss goals. Researchers reduced legumes and grains, and increased fish, olive oil, veggies and fruits, with some lean meats thrown into the mix.
The diet is also rich in fiber, which helps with satiety and can prevent overeating. Protein from fish, as well as the fats from olive oil and nuts, also provide satiety.
The following foods are the building blocks of a Mediterranean style diet::
- Olive oil
- Unrefined grains (whole wheat, brown rice, oats, barley, etc.)
- Cheese and Yogurt
- Moderate consumption of wine
To get you started on the Mediterranean diet, I’ve included a few nutrient-dense, low-calorie recipes that follow the traditional guidelines.
Grilled Salmon Salad with Walnuts and Cranberries
- 4 cups salad greens (any variety)
- 1 cup chopped broccoli
- 1 chopped green pepper
- 1 chopped red pepper
- 1/2 cup dried (or fresh) cranberries
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup sliced black or green olives
- Olive oil
- Apple cider vinegar
- Juice of one fresh lemon
- 2-3 oz. grilled salmon fillets
Toss greens, broccoli, chopped peppers, cranberries, walnuts and olives together in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Evenly disperse into two serving bowls. Top each salad with salmon. Spritz with freshly squeezed lemon juice, if desired.
Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Cilantro, and Olives
- 12 oz. dried whole-wheat pasta
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup chopped cilantro leaves (discard stems)
- 1 cup black or green olives, sliced
- 8.5 oz. sun dried tomatoes
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a non-stick skillet. Sautee onion and garlic until soft and slightly fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Turn off the heat and toss in olives, tomatoes, and salt and pepper.
Dish out pasta into serving bowls. Top with tomato mixture and garnish with fresh cilantro.
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup strawberries
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1 banana
- Stevia (or other sweetener), to taste
- 1 cup ice cubes
Mix all ingredients together in a blender.