While there are plenty of in-depth healthy Mediterranean diet books available, they take time to read before you can implement their advice. However, when you make these 5 simple substitutions, you can start to reap the heart-healthy, brain-strengthening and weight loss rewards this unique nutrition plan offers.
1: Swap out red meat, pork and chicken for salmon, tuna and shellfish
This delivers heart-healthy and nutrient-rich Omega 3 fatty acids for less healthy meat options.
Pork and chicken can be healthy in moderation, but they do not offer the mental and cardiovascular benefits of the essential fatty acids found in fish like herring and sardines, and shellfish such as oysters and clams.
2: Substitute whole foods for processed foods
Whole food is defined as a food product that is as close to its natural state as possible.
That means those chicken nuggets you are eating are nowhere near as healthy as a lean, skinless broiled chicken breast.
3: Replace white flour and white rice with whole grains and whole wheat
Whole grains and whole wheat are closer to their natural state and process than enriched white flour products. This makes them more heart-healthy, and higher in important dietary fiber. White rice should also be replaced, with quinoa or whole oats.
4: Substitute “good fats” for “bad fats”
Extra-virgin olive oil has been called by some nutrition experts and organizations one of the healthiest foods in the world. That’s because it delivers “good fats.”
Healthy fats are also contained in avocados, sunflower and soybean oil, sardines, herring and salmon, shellfish, nuts and sunflower seeds.
Steer clear of saturated fats, trans fats and hydrogenated oils.
5: Replace non-plant foods with more fruits and vegetables
A healthy Mediterranean diet is based first and foremost on fresh whole foods, vegetables and fruits. Healthy fats and whole grains are added as well.
An easy way to see if you are getting enough whole foods, fruits and vegetables in your diet is to simply look at your plate. If two-thirds of your meal swam, crawled, flew or walked, your proportions are wrong.
Bonus Tip: Eat breakfast every day, instead of every once in a while
Enjoying fruits and whole grains, oatmeal and other high-fiber foods for breakfast means you feel full longer.
This reduces your craving for a mid-morning unhealthy snack binge. And studies show that eating some protein at breakfast causes you to eat less during the day.
So if you tend to skip breakfast from time to time … stop. Make a healthy breakfast a priority.
Move At Your Own Pace As You Transition To A Healthy Mediterranean Diet
Begin slow, simply substituting one less-than-healthy meal a day with some of the Mediterranean-style foods mentioned above.
After a couple of weeks, make two healthy meal substitutions … and so on. When you see and feel the benefits of a healthier heart, better brain functioning, stronger, healthier looking skin and weight loss, you will be happy to replace all of your old eating habits with healthy Mediterranean options.