Starting the Mediterranean Diet? Here’s a good place to start. Learn all about the Mediterranean Diet for Beginners!
The Mediterranean Diet is a plant-focused diet centered around the traditional cuisine of people living around the Mediterranean Sea. The diet is fueled by olive oil as a healthy fat source and whole foods like fruits, vegetables and legumes. Generally, the Mediterranean Diet is a high fat, moderate protein, moderately high carbohydrate diet but the carbohydrates don’t come from processed foods, but instead whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables. The main protein in the Mediterranean Diet comes from beans, nuts and seeds whereas the main protein in the typical American diet comes from meat, chicken and pork. The greatest health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet can be seen over long term adherence to the diet.
The Basics of a Mediterranean Meal
A well-documented case of a traditional Mediterranean Diet was laid out in a study done in 1949 on the Greek island of Crete. At this time, Cretans had the lowest rates of heart disease in the world and scientists were curious about what they were eating.
Based on the data recorded in the study, Cretans were eating 40% fruits and vegetables, 28% whole grains, 12% starchy vegetables, 6% unsaturated plant oils, 5% plant protein, 5% animal protein, 3% dairy, and 2% added sugars. In comparison, a typical American eats almost 10 times the amount of dairy, twice the amount of meat, and three times the amount of added sugar. A study found that 42% of a typical American’s calories come from refined grains, starchy vegetables and added sugars. So what does a typical Mediterranean plate look like?
Here’s a simple infographic to guide you.
Image Source: Mediterranean Diet and NAFLD: What We Know and Questions That Still Need to Be Answered
But, even more useful, are some real examples of a Mediterranean meal. Here are some from our Mediterranean Diet for Beginners video. You can see there’s a lot of variety but each meal is totally aligned with the Mediterranean Diet.
All in all, the basics of a Mediterranean meal includes lots of fruits & vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and higher amounts of plant protein (i.e. beans) compared to animal protein. So now you know what a Mediterranean meal should look like, let’s talk about finding recipes that will have you eating some of the healthiest and most delicious foods in the world.
Finding Immaculate Mediterranean Recipes
For some, hunting for authentic, healthy Mediterranean recipes can be super enjoyable! There are thousands of cookbooks by Mediterranean chefs and home cooks that have awesome recipes. There are also plenty of websites, Youtube channels and other online resources that can provide you with recipes. I personally love discovering recipes and trying something new. If this is you, amazing! Here is a list of Mediterranean guidelines you can follow so when you are finding recipes you can make sure they align with all the healthy principles of the traditional Mediterranean Diet.
Download the Mediterranean guidelines here for free!
If you’re looking to make a Mediterranean meal as soon as possible and/or less interested in finding new recipes yourself, here are some of our favorite Mediterranean Diet recipe sources.
Spain on a Fork