Health experts everywhere continue to sing the Mediterranean meal plan’s praises. Harvard Health Publications notes that following it can ward off heart attack, stroke, and premature death, in addition to reducing your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and various types of cancer. Furthermore, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee notes that the Mediterranean Diet emphasizes a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil, legumes, fish, and whole grains, which can help those following it meet nutritional goals without consuming too many calories. Wondering whether the Mediterranean Diet is right for you? Read on to discover four of the meal plan’s benefits.
1. You don’t have to count calories.
Tired of counting calories? You don’t have to when following the Mediterranean meal plan. Authority Nutrition notes that the diet typically doesn’t require you to track your calories or the macronutients you’re consuming, such as protein, fat, and carbs. Rather, the meal plan encourages you to swap out bad fats, like butter, for heart-healthy ones, such as olive oil. In addition, Web MD notes that the diet recommends you eat fresh fruits instead of sugar-riddled sweets and emphasizes fiber-filled foods, such as beans and veggies. Nuts and wine are also on the list of approved foods, as long you enjoy them in moderation. If you are following the Mediterranean meal plan to lose weight, Patient does recommend supplementing the diet with 30 minutes of daily exercise.
2. It will help you meet your daily nutritional goals.
Because the Mediterranean Diet emphasizes a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods, following the plan will help you meet your recommended daily amounts of key vitamins and minerals. A Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report notes that the meal plan shares similarities with the United States Department of Agriculture’s recommended food patterns. For example, the report states that the Mediterranean Diet and the USDA Food Patterns are alike with respect to daily fruit and vegetable intakes.
There are a few differences between the two plans, however; dairy intake is lower for the Mediterranean Diet than it is for the USDA Food Patterns, and red and processed meats and seafood consumption are higher for the Mediterranean meal plan, according to the report. U.S. News & World Report notes that the diet adheres to many of the USDA’s guidelines, including its fat, protein, carb, salt, and fiber recommendations. The Mediterranean meal plan doesn’t quite meet the USDA’s recommendations for potassium and calcium, but this can be remedied by eating more fruits and vegetables, along with yogurt, tofu, fortified cereals, and juice, according to U.S. News & World Report.
3. You won’t feel deprived.
You won’t be cutting out food groups when you’re following the Mediterranean meal plan. Mayo Clinic notes that the diet primarily focuses on plant-based foods, such as fruits and veggies, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. It also requires you to replace butter with healthy fats consume fish and poultry at least twice a week, and use herbs and spices instead of salt.
You can still eat red meat as long as you limit it to a few times a month, and red wine is fine in moderation, explains Mayo Clinic. Dessert isn’t off limits either. The next time you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, prepare Fine Cooking’s Honey and Tahini Ganache with Toasted Sesame Seeds or Epicurious’s Cherry Almond Tart; they’re both Mediterranean Diet approved!
4. It’s easy to follow.
Many diets come with strict rules and complicated guidelines, but that is not the case with the Mediterranean meal plan. Web MD explains that because the diet is based on the eating habits of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, your meals aren’t limited to Greek or Italian; you can also enjoy dishes from France, Spain, Turkey, and Morocco. Many of these dishes are small and easy-to-assemble, meaning that meal preparation is often unbelievably easy. Web MD notes that you can prepare similar Greek meals, called mezzes, by serving small plates of cheese, olives, and nuts.
While the diet does encourage fresh food, you can save money and avoid constant trips to the grocery store by making a few easy swaps. You can use frozen veggies in place of fresh produce, and canned mushrooms, tomatoes, corn, and beans are also acceptable, according to The Dr. Oz Show. Looking for a few easy-to-follow Mediterranean Diet-approved recipes? Prepare Cooking Light’s Mediterranean Chicken Salad Pitas or Eating Well’s Roasted Cod with Warm Tomato-Olive-Caper Tapenade; both can be made in under 30 minutes!