Originally considered the diet of the poor man, the Mediterranean Diet is now considered among the healthiest in the world. Based on the natural diet of people living in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea such as France, Italy, Spain, Morocco, and Greece, this diet emphasizes plant-based foods, healthier fats and proteins, plant-based seasonings, and exercise.
To try this diet yourself, add fruits and vegetables at meal time or as snacks throughout the day. They are full of disease-fighting antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and the added fiber in whole grains has been linked to decreased levels of cholesterol while also promoting intestinal health. Switching to whole-grain bread and eating grains such as barley, quinoa, and farro is a great way to incorporate the Mediterranean diet into everyday life.
Use heart-healthy fats such as olive oil, and eat nuts and other unsaturated fat sources high in omega-3 fatty acids. Limit amounts of saturated fat such as butter. Choosing these heart-healthy options helps lower LDL (or the “bad” cholesterol) and will provide you with antioxidant benefits.
Keep consumption of red meat to a minimum—no more than just a few times a month—and eat fish and poultry multiple times a week. Substituting fish and poultry for red meat will help lower your cholesterol intake and promote heart health. Use salt minimally; use herbs and spices to flavor dishes instead.
So, what type of beverages should you consume along with all of these healthy foods? Red wine in moderation! A glass of red wine with your meal is actually allowed, but if you don’t already drink, don’t feel the need to start.
Enjoy this recipe that follows the rules of the Mediterranean diet—and check the Be Well Philly Blog for some tips on how to incorporate physical activity into your everyday life.
Mediterranean Style Grilled Salmon
• 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 4 salmon fillets, each 5 ounces
• Cracked black pepper, to taste
• 4 green olives, chopped
• 4 thin slices lemon
Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill or broiler. Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source. In a small bowl, combine the basil, parsley, minced garlic and lemon juice. Spray the fish with cooking spray. Sprinkle with black pepper. Top each fillet with equal amounts of the basil-garlic mixture. Place the fish herb-side down on the grill. Grill over high heat. When the edges turn white, after about 3 to 4 minutes, turn the fish over and place on aluminum foil. Move the fish to a cooler part of the grill or reduce the heat. Grill until the fish is opaque throughout when tested with the tip of a knife and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fish reads 145°F (about 4 minutes longer). Remove the salmon and place on warmed plates. Garnish with green olives and lemon slices.