DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – This is a diet you have heard about before, time and again. It’s nothing new. In fact, it’s thousands of years old.
It is the Mediterranean diet. A simple approach to eating that has been for millenia.
A study conducted by researchers at Spain’s University of Barcelona examined the diet’s effect on heart disease. The New England Journal of Medicine published the findings on its website Monday morning and determined “the Mediterranean diet as the most likely dietary model to provide protection against coronary heart disease.” The study says eating this way reduces risk of cardiovascular disease up to 30 percent.
The results were so overwhelmingly positive that the study ended early because, according to The New York Times, “it was considered unethical to continue.”
Here are highlights of the fabulous things you can consume while eating the Mediterranean way:
- Olive oil, olive oil and more olive oil. Top it on your salads, coat your fish in it, dip your whole grain breads into it (no butter). Get creative.
- At least two servings of vegetables a day. Think a big, fresh veggie-filled salad and a wonderful side dish.
- At least three servings of fruit per day.
- At least three servings of fish a week.
- At least three servings of legumes (beans, peas and lentils) per week.
- Eat white meat instead of red.
- Have at least seven glasses of wine a week, with meals. That’s a big one — no hooch without healthy food.
- Enjoy as much chocolate as you like as long as it is 50 percent cocoa. Forget about that refined, full-of-sugar white or milk chocolate. I prefer 70 percent.
- Low-fat cheese can be enjoyed (think string cheese, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt).
- Get this: eat as many nuts, whole-grains and eggs as you like!
- A sauce made with tomatoes (lycopene!), garlic and tomatoes simmered in olive oil at least twice a week. I top a simple white fish in this. Delicious.
As for what to avoid? This is all no-brainer stuff:
- Commercially made cookies, cakes and pastries. This is all that high-sugar, trans-fat laden crap.
- Dairy products, the saturated fat-filled stuff. I will admit, giving up that good Manchego cheese is not easy.
- Sugar-filled sodas.
- Limit consumption of processed meats. This is a big one. Those lunch meats are filled with nitrates and all other sorts of garbage. Just avoid them. When I eliminated sandwiches from my lunchtime diet, I dropped 10 pounds without blinking an eye.
Worried about the larger amounts of nuts and oil? Don’t. Researchers determined you will be eating so much “real” food instead of fake crap, you get full. It’s about balance, simplicity, natural foods and seasonal eating.
The great thing about this is that the Mediterranean diet involves NO deprivation. None. Really. Think about all the fabulous things you can include: the fish, the gorgeous ripe vegetables and fruits, those wonderful walnuts or almonds and the chocolate. All that beautiful, dark chocolate. Perhaps made even more beautiful draped over fresh strawberries.
Also, it’s not about perfection all the time. Go ahead, have those cheese fries on a Friday night, but make it a rare indulgence not a daily one. This diet is easy, delicious and totally doable.
Mediterranean Diet in Action
I don’t cook, but I am in love with a few easy, simple Mediterranean recipes. My new favorite is mustard roasted cauliflower. So easy, even I can make it, and did so Sunday night. A big batch will last a few days.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Chop one head of cauliflower or just pull apart if you’re uber-lazy like me.
- Mix one part olive oil to three parts good mustard. I like Edmond Fallot. Get the mustard to an almost runny consistency.
- Coat cauliflower in mustard in a baking dish.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook for 20 minutes, toss and cook for another 20 minutes.
This is a 24-hour old batch of cauliflower. Not the most visually pleasing, but totally delectable.
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