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The Mediterranean diet is abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil. It also contains moderate amounts of fish and poultry as lean protein sources. Red wine is consumed regularly but in moderate amounts.
Research suggests many health benefits following a Mediterranean-style eating pattern, such as improved weight loss, better blood-sugar levels and reduced risk of depression. Other benefits include reduced inflammation levels - a risk factor for heart attack, stroke and Alzheimer's disease.
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids. It improves HDL cholesterol, the "good" type of cholesterol. A 2017 study showed that HDL cholesterol moves "bad" LDL particles out of arteries.
Use olive oil in homemade salad dressings. Drizzle it on finished dishes like fish or chicken. Substitute butter with olive oil in mashed potatoes or pasta.
Fish is the go-to protein in the Mediterranean diet. Fatty fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel are rich in heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Even leaner fish like cod or tilapia are worth it, as they provide a good source of protein.
If you don't eat a lot of fish, an easy entry point is to designate one day each week as fish night.
A good way to fit in more veggies is to eat one serving at snack time, such as bell pepper strips or a spinach smoothie, and one at dinner, such as a side dish.
Aim for at least two servings per day.
Grains should be in their "whole" form and not be refined.
Nuts are a Mediterranea diet staple. Nuts contain more fibre and minerals, such as potassium, than processed snack foods.
A satisfying, on-the-go snack is some almonds, cashews or pistachios.
Fresh fruit is a healthy way to curb your sweet tooth. Fruit is a good source of fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants.
Keep fresh fruit visible at home and take a piece or two to work for a healthful snack.
Dietitians recommend that women stick to a 3-ounce serving and men to a 5-ounce serving per day.
Try to sip with a meal. It is even better when that meal is shared with loved ones.
Instead of eating your meal in front of the TV, slow down. Sit at the table with your family and friends to savour what you're eating.
You will enjoy your company and eat slower, which allows you to tune in to your body's hunger and fullness signals.
"Never look back unless you are planning to go that way." - Henry David Thoreau
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