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10 Ways to Make Your Meals More Mediterranean

10 Ways to Make Your Meals More Mediterranean

The traditional diet of Greece (before 1960) is the one linked to lowered death rates and longer life expectancy. It is characterized by a high intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and cereals (mostly in the form of sourdough bread rather than pasta); most olive oil and olives; less milk but more cheese; more fish and less meat; and moderate amounts of wine. Obviously, most of us can’t drop everything and start eating the traditional Mediterranean way. But we can embrace the following 10 steps to incorporate as man aspects of traditional Mediterranean cuisine as possible.

Step 1
Fill your plate with fruits and vegetables, emphasizing green leafy vegetables.

Step 2
Eat more fish and less meat and dairy. When dining out, choose entrees with plenty of vegetables, and avoid those with cream or butter or lots of cheese. For example, enjoy grilled fish served with vegetables, or vegetarian pasta drizzled with olive oil and a little Parmesan.

Step 3
Go for whole grains and flour whenever possible. According to researcher Ancel Keys, M.D., Ph.D., less-processed whole grain foods provide a more sustained level of energy over a longer period, making them more healthful.

Step 4
Reach for extra-virgin olive oil instead of another vegetable oil, especially when olive oil will enhance or complement other flavors in a dish.

Step 5
Snack on nuts almost every day, and feature beans in your entree or side dish when possible.

Step 6
Get a little fruit with dessert. End your meal with a treat that provides a serving of fruit. Grapes or baked apples, for example, contribute to phytochemicals (in the case of grapes, same as those you’d get from the wine).

Step 7
If you drink wine or other alcoholic beverages, have it only with meals, and don’t overdo it.

Step 8
Enjoy olives (green or black) as accents in entree dishes or sandwiches and salads, or set them out on the table as appetizers.

Step 9

Take in dairy as cheese and yogurt; milk is less of a focus in Mediterranean cuisine.

Step 10

Become a “dipper” instead of a “spreader.” Instead of serving sourdough or French bread with butter or margarine, try setting out a small dish of tasty extra-virgin olive oil to dip slices in. You can punch up the flavor of the olive oil with a splash of balsamic vinegar and/or a sprinkle of black pepper, Italian herbs, or salt.

Adapted from Food Synergy, by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD (Rodale, 2007).

Read more: Health, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, General Health, , , , , ,

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

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1:49PM PDT on Oct 8, 2013

Great tips,Thanks for sharing

11:51AM PDT on Oct 8, 2013


6:27AM PDT on Aug 3, 2011

Yummy! Thanks for the info.

8:06PM PDT on Jul 25, 2009

I would gear away from salt in general, and more specifically as part of the bread and olive oil.

2:20AM PDT on Jun 15, 2009



10:31PM PST on Nov 8, 2008

Thanks for giving evidences in support of my observation on food culture in USA, although the words and comments are harsh for some. This food culture is also spreading to other countries. You also aggre that it has become very difficult for ordinary people to change to a balanced food regime. It requires a great effort in the present situation. Info is important here.

5:22PM PST on Nov 4, 2008

Americans cook mostly factory prepared foods which is loaded with high fructose corn syrup, salt, preservatives, colorings and other junk that contributes to an unhealthy diet. Check out US supermarkets. Snackfood isles go on endlessly along with prepared,unhealthy frozen and long shelflife foods that contribute to obesity. Unfortunately TV advertising,corporate farms, and mass produced Agricorp foods have changed the way Americans are eating from 50 years ago.There needs to be a total overhaul in the way Americans purchase and prepare foods without the use of already concocted products that provide fat and sugar calories but no nutrition.Convenience is now "God" so everyone can work 60+hours weekly to buy nonsense products that amount to nothing more than fill an empty space in their souls. Its a sad state of affairs when fresh fruit and vegetables have been replaced by frankenfood from the superproducers and stockholders of corporate America. If everyone stopped becoming part of the herd mentality and finally took the time to buy locally,learned to garden and really cook from scratch, avoid the "already prepared"stuff,everyone of us would be healthier. Our children would not be obese and the diabetes and heart disease epidemics would end. Try it.

7:10PM PDT on Oct 30, 2008

I read, impressed and changed my food make up by info given by your page. Even without this info I have a balanced diet of meat, veg and fruits in modest quantity during my life, even though I am a slim and healthy person by nature. But during my long visit to UK, USA, Canada, I find an absence of veg and fruit from places, where common people eat and it is expensive, although veg and fruit are plentiful. May be a balanced diet has gone out of fashion and people have become lazy and fat. Is there a concipracy against the people? I also find every where a greater use of sugar and salt in food products. It has become very difficult for common people to use a balanced diet regime. Every one can not read your page and change. What do you say?

10:58AM PDT on Oct 30, 2008

You're right, it's meant to say "only with meals." Typo fixed and sorry about that!

3:48AM PDT on Oct 30, 2008

really, drink wine only with meats, or does it mean to say with meals?

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