Olive oil, cheese, yogurt, whole grains, beans, wine, fruits and vegetables—sounds good doesn’t it?

These Mediterranean diet staples may reduce your risk for heart disease and some cancers, improve weight loss, reduce inflammation and even possibly add years to your life. What’s more, a Mediterranean diet is linked to a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes.

The Mediterranean diet is based on the lifestyle and traditional way of eating in some countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Overall, people in these countries tend to have a lower incidence of heart disease and decreased mortality.

This diet is focused on food in it’s natural unprocessed form and has plenty of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, mostly from olive oil, as well as nuts and seeds. This type of fat has been found to reduce belly fat, promote weight loss and reduce cholesterol. In addition, this type of diet has a good amount Omega-3 fatty acids from seafood and walnuts. Fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains provide fiber and antioxidants. Combined, these components make for a powerhouse diet.

Mediterranean Diet Basics

Lifestyle

The Mediterranean culture values sitting at a table and enjoying a meal with loved ones. People there traditionally take time to enjoy food in the company of others. Eating slowly and savoring your food while in conversation allows you to tune into your body’s hunger and fullness signals – rather than rushing past them by eating in a hurry.

Switch Oils

Use extra-virgin olive oil as your main dietary fat! The fatty acids in olive oil help control inflammation and improve your “good” cholesterol.

Eat fish and seafood often, two times per week or more

Fatty fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel are great for your heart and brain health. Try starting with one serving of fish at dinner and then add more!

Snack on Nuts

Avoid the temptation to reach for sugary or processed snacks by having heart and brain healthy nuts, seeds and legumes conveniently at hand!

Eat vegetables all day long!

Organic, non-starchy vegetables are your best friend. Try adding one serving at snack times and one at breakfast if you are struggling to get them into your diet. Adding spinach to a smoothie or chopped veggies to scrambled eggs are great ways to sneak them in.

Whole Grains

Eat real, not refined, whole grains like quinoa, barley and oats.

Have fruit for dessert

Having fruit as snacks and desserts is a great way to satisfy a sugar craving while avoiding spiking your blood sugar with processed snacks. Berries are delicious and don’t spike your blood sugar as much as some other fruits.

Moderate your portions of other meats and dairy

In this diet, you can enjoy organic, free range chicken, cheese and other dairy in moderation throughout the week. It is also recommended that red meat be consumed no more than once a week, if at all.

Take care of yourself

Getting plenty of sleep, exercise, and water for your body is crucial to any healthy lifestyle.

You don’t need to travel any further than your local grocery store or farmers’ market to discover the Mediterranean. It’s easy to bring these remarkable health benefits and this affordable style of eating to your kitchen cupboards, your refrigerator, your countertops, your stovetop, your oven and your table every day.