Health & Wellness – What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet has fewer meats and carbohydrates and more plant-based foods and monounsaturated (good) fat than a typical American diet. Many people who live in Italy, Spain, and other countries in the Mediterranean region have eaten this way for centuries.

Following the Mediterranean diet may lead to more stable blood sugars, lower cholesterol and triglycerides, and a lower risk of heart disease and other health problems.

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Mediterranean diet pattern has these characteristics:

  • Vegetables are eaten several times per day, raw and cooked, and potatoes don’t count.
  • Fruit is also eaten multiple times per day.
  • Legumes, including soy, beans, and peas are a daily staple.
  • Whole grains are another daily staple (including whole wheat bread).
  • Nuts are a regular item, several times per week.
  • Olive oil is the main cooking and culinary oil.*
  • Fish is eaten more than once per week.
  • Saturated fat from butter, meat and eggs is rarely eaten.
  • Red meat is rarely eaten.
  • Deli, luncheon and cured meats are almost never eaten.
  • Refined sugars and sweets are rarely eaten and reserved for special occasions.
  • Alcohol is enjoyed in moderation (1-2 drinks per day).

Here is a great pasta dish recipe I got from Cooking Light Magazine a few years ago.

Ingredients:

  • 3 quarts of water
  • 8 ounce of uncooked whole wheat pasta
  • 1 pound of  peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 3 tablespoon of drained capers
  • ¼ cup of chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 cups of baby spinach

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Preparation

Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add pasta; cook 8 minutes. Add shrimp to pan; cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done and pasta is al dente. Drain. Place pasta mixture in a large bowl. Stir in basil and next 4 ingredients (through salt). Place 1/2 cup spinach on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 1/2 cups pasta mixture.

 

Sarah Kuretzky, MA, CPT, CHHC

 

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