• By Talia Follador
  • In 2020
  • May 12, 2020

What is the Mediterranean Diet and How Can I Incorporate it into My Daily Life?

By Emily Bumgarner, RDN, LDN 

Another Diet?

The word “diet” can sound restrictive and scary. The Mediterranean Diet is a way of eating or a lifestyle that provides variety through each food group. These ideas come from the traditions of countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, such as Italy and Spain. Delicious flavors combine with fresh foods to provide meals with a nutritious punch!

Core Pillars

The core pillars of the Mediterranean Diet are daily consumption of plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, and healthy fats. It encourages twice weekly intake of fish and seafood while having a moderate intake of dairy, eggs, and poultry. Red meat and sweets should be limited, but not restricted, due to high fat and sugar content. As for hydration, water is always best, but it also emphasizes other choices such as seltzer or sparkling water, tea, coffee, and unsweetened beverages. A component that many people enjoy is red wine. Mediterranean countries are known for their wonderful wines which can provide health benefits, although there is no need to start drinking alcohol if you do not already. Besides food components, the diet also encourages being mindful as you enjoy meals, being physically active, and living your life with gratitude. 

The Mediterranean Diet has been scientifically researched and has been shown to provide improvement for many chronic diseases. Heart health is one of the biggest known benefits of eating a Mediterranean Diet. By replacing fats in meals with heart healthy fats, one can lower their LDL, or “bad”, cholesterol and lower their risk for a heart attack or stroke. It has been proven that 80% of heart disease can be prevented through diet changes alone, and the Mediterranean Diet is a good place to start!

Building a Mediterranean Cart

  • Produce: fruits & veggies of all varieties, herbs, nuts
  • Deli: hummus, gourmet cheeses
  • Seafood: all varieties (plain & un-breaded)
  • Meat: lean chicken breast, ground turkey breast, 93% fat free or higher ground beef, pork tenderloin
  • Center Store: whole grains (rice, pasta, bread, etc.), beans, lentils, canned tuna, olive oil, vinegar, spices
  • Dairy: Greek yogurt, cheese, eggs

 

Sample Recipe

Walnut, Quinoa & Spinach Stuffed Peppers (courtesy of Weis Markets)

-4 Red Bell Peppers

-1/2 cup Quinoa

-1 cup Chopped Walnuts

-2 cups Baby Spinach, Chopped

-1/4 cup Crumbled Feta Cheese

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Slice ½-inch from the top of 4 red bell peppers; reserve tops. Remove seeds and inner membranes from peppers; place cut side up in 9-inch square baking dish.
  2. Cook ½ cup quinoa in 1 cup water as label directs; transfer to a medium bowl.
  3. Stir 1 cup chopped walnuts into the cooked quinoa.
  4. Stir 2 cups chopped baby spinach into quinoa mixture; divide evenly into each pepper.
  5. Sprinkle ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese over peppers; cover with the pepper tops. Bake for 35 minutes or until peppers are tender. 

Link: https://www.weismarkets.com/recipes/walnut-quinoa-spinach-stuffed-peppers/24628

 

 

Emily Bumgarner, RDN, LDN is the In-Store Dietitian for the Harrisburg area Weis Markets stores. She provides customers with store tours, workshops, community events, tastings, and one-on-one nutrition consultations. Find Emily’s event schedule at https://www.weismarkets.com/health-wellness-events-enola

 

 

 

References:

https://www.heart.org/en/get-involved/advocate/federal-priorities/cdc-prevention-programs

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/mediterranean-diet

https://oldwayspt.org/traditional-diets/mediterranean-diet

https://www.weismarkets.com/