Happy Mediterranean Diet Month!

Did you know that May is Mediterranean Diet Month? The Mediterranean Diet is a way of eating reflective of traditions in the regions surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, in countries like Spain, France, Italy, Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Malta, Tunisia, Turkey, Algeria, Albania, Greece, Israel, Croatia, Libya, and Lebanon.. But, what most people don’t know is that you don’t need to travel around the world to get these heart healthy benefits. It’s remarkably easy to incorporate these types of foods into you and your family’s every day diet!

Embracing the Med Diet is all about making simple but profound changes in the way you eat today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your life. Here are 8 simple steps for good health:

1.       Eat lots of vegetables

2.       Change the way you think about meat

3.       Always eat breakfast

4.       Eat seafood twice a week

5.       Cook a vegetarian meal one night a week

6.       Use good fats

7.       Enjoy some dairy products

8.       For dessert, eat fresh fruit

The Mediterranean Diet also been shown to help:

          Achieve weight loss and weight management goals

          Lower your risk of heart disease and hypertension

          Fight cancers and chronic diseases

          Reduce asthma

          Avoid diabetes

          Resist depression

          Nurture healthier babies

Did you know that the Med Diet has its own food guide pyramid? Here are some tips at following the guide from the bottom (proven to be the most important) all the way up to the top….

          Look for ways to be more active

          Cooking and enjoying time with family and friends contribute to good health

          Every day, eat mostly whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, herbs, spices, nuts and peanuts, and healthy fats such as those found in olive oil

          At least twice a week, eat fish and seafood, the best sources of heart- and brain-healthy omega-3s

          Yogurt, cheese, poultry, and eggs are central to the Mediterranean Diet, in rational portion sizes

          Red meat and sweets, at the top of the pyramid, are “sometimes” foods to eat less often.

The Med Diet has specific nutrition “powerhouses” that play a significant role in the health benefits it provides to people all over the world…

          Avocados– high in fiber and packed with monounsaturated fat and vitamin E

          Fish– great sources of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and mackerel

          Tomatoes– vitamin C and lycopene, which is a great antioxidant

          Yogurt– a protein powerhouse containing calcium to strengthen your bones

          Beans– a great sources of protein and fiber

          Nuts, peanuts, and seeds– protein, fiber, AND heart-healthy fats

          Wine– contains powerful antioxidants from the grape skins and the seeds have been shown to reduce the risk of most diseases of aging

          Whole grains– these “good” carbs are packed with nutrients, fiber, and protein

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It’s easy to throw healthy eating habits out the window when you’re away from home and your regular routine. Andrea D’Ambrosio, RD talks about ways to create a healthy winter routine while staying on a budget.

Plan ahead and stick to a list
Being prepared before you grab your grocery cart will help you avoid impulse purchases. It also gives you time to look at flyers, find sales and clip coupons. Try taking advantage of no-name products and avoiding shopping while you’re hungry.

Shop in season and avoid being wasteful
Buy in-season foods from local farmer’s markets, which is cheaper, and be resourceful with leftovers, using up excess food before it goes to waste, she says.

Consider vegetarian alternatives
If you study your grocery bill, meat products are often among the most expensive items. Consider planning meals with vegetarian alternatives like lentils, beans and soy. Check out vegetarian websites for heart- and budget-healthy meal ideas, she suggests.

Here are 5 friendly foods and the reasons you should add them to your grocery list:

  1. Fresh, seasonal fruit: A favorite snack to boost energy levels between meals if you feel a little hungry (power of carbs) and allows you to benefit from vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  1. Low-fat (1 percent) or non-fat milk: In order to maintain our bone density, we need to consume adequate dairy to receive calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and protein, which are all essential for bone growth and development.
  1. Whole grains: According to the Journal of Nutrition (2011), oats, barley, rice and quinoa all lower risk of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer, as well contribute to body-weight management and gastrointestinal health. Try buying whole-grain pasta and remember to look for the words “whole grain” on the label.
  1. Almonds: But just a handful a day, and make them unsalted! A portion-controlled (quarter cup) serving of almonds is excellent for lowering cholesterol because of the unsaturated fats, making them a heart-healthy choice. Almonds are high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, and are naturally high in fiber and a good source of protein!
  1. Edamame: Green soybeans, made popular in Japanese cuisine but available in grocery stores, add a nice nutritional punch. These tasty soybeans can be added as a side dish, steamed in the pod or consumed as a snack or appetizer. Nutritionally speaking, they are another heart-healthy source of protein, fiber and vitamins.

http://www.thestar.com/specialsections/snowbirds/article/1301135–fill-your-southern-grocery-cart-with-healthy-foods

http://www.dieteticdirections.com/

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