That Looks Delicious!

That Looks Delicious!

The Mediterranean diet is among the best for helping to promote heart health and weight loss

Since we’re at home for dinner more often in the Age of Covid-19, take advantage of this new reality by involving your whole family in preparing simple, delicious, nutritious meals.

Going Mediterranean is an ideal choice if you’re interested in eating healthfully for a lifetime, rather than following a trendy diet plan of the moment that yields short-term results.

Named for the traditional foods and flavors of countries along the Mediterranean Sea — including Italy, Greece and Spain — the mainly plant-based diet is rich in fresh produce, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, legumes and olive oil. Fish and poultry are consumed more than red meat. There are moderate amounts of low-fat or fat-free dairy. Wine is served with meals, in moderation. Fruit for dessert is a fresh, healthy and delicious alternative to empty-calorie choices. Processed foods, added sugars and saturated and trans fats are limited.

Staying healthy is more important than ever, with Covid-19 surges and variants. The Mediterranean diet may help to prevent heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular issues, as it plays a key role in keeping obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol in check.

In addition to wonderful food choices, notable are enjoyable aspects of the Mediterranean lifestyle, including relaxing meals at the family table (minus the TV and computers), followed by long walks and outdoor family activities (maintaining mask wearing and social distancing guidelines).

Since a trip to a sunny Mediterranean isle is probably not in your immediate plans due to the pandemic, the Mayo Clinic offers the following suggestions for bringing Mediterranean foods and flavors to your table:

Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Set a goal of seven to ten servings a day.

Choose whole grains. Switch to whole-grain bread, cereal and pasta. Experiment with other whole grains, such as bulgar and farro.

Use healthy fats. A mainstay of the Mediterranean diet, healthy fats are eaten instead of saturated and trans fats, which contribute to heart disease. Olive oil is the primary source of added fat in the Mediterranean diet. It provides monounsaturated fat, which has been found to lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad) cholesterol levels. Nuts and seeds also contain monounsaturated fat. Replace butter with olive oil when cooking. Try dipping bread in flavored olive oil instead of using butter or margarine. 

Eat fish twice a week. Fatty fish — such as mackerel, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon and lake trout — are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a polyunsaturated fat that may reduce inflammation in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids also help decrease triglycerides, reduce blood clotting and decrease the risk of stroke and heart failure. Fresh or water-packed tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring are healthy fish choices. When cooking fish, grill instead of frying.

Reduce your red meat intake. Substitute fish, poultry or beans. If you do eat meat, choose lean cuts and keep the portions small.

Enjoy moderate amounts of dairy. Opt for low-fat Greek or plain yogurt and small amounts of a variety of cheeses.

Add herbs and spices. Boost flavor and lessen the need for salt.

Enjoy! You may not want to eat any other way. And remember to take that nice, long after-dinner walk.