Health Advocate Blog

Love your heart. Go Mediterranean!

The Mediterranean meal plan is a heart-healthy diet that incorporates foods and cooking styles used by people living in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea (Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, etc.). According to the Mayo Clinic, studies indicate that the traditional Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of heart disease and other health conditions.

The Mediterranean meal plan emphasizes eating primarily plant-based foods. This meal plan is largely made up of a wide variety of vegetables and legumes, fruits, healthier fats like olive oil and nuts, whole grains like whole wheat bread and pasta, and some dairy products like feta and mozzarella cheese, and yogurt. In terms of proteins, the plan promotes eating fish, shellfish, and poultry, while consuming few eggs and very little red meat. Thus, the Mediterranean meal plan tends to be:

  • Low in saturated fats
  • High in monounsaturated fats (“good” fats that lower Coronary Heart Disease risk)
  • High in fiber
  • High in nutrients that promote good health

The Mediterranean meal plan promotes flavoring food with herbs and spices instead of salt, and using olive oil instead of butter. Plus, because this meal plan includes very few processed foods, those who follow a Mediterranean diet also tend to consume less salt, refined sugar, and trans fats.

In general, Mediterranean meal plans have acquired a good reputation because of their potential health benefits as well as the delicious flavors that its core foods are known for. Olive and canola oils, as well as the omega-3s found in fish, can provide cardiovascular benefits. In addition, olive oil is rich in Vitamin E, which promotes healthy skin and hair, and other antioxidants that benefit the heart. The Mediterranean meal plan also includes plenty of vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fruits that can provide important nutrients, vitamins, and fiber, while also improving digestion.

Curious about trying a Mediterranean meal plan? Here are some healthy and delicious recipes you can try.

Healthy bowls:

Mediterranean Chicken Quinoa Bowl

Greek Cauliflower Rice Bowls with Grilled Chicken

Kale and Chickpea Grain Bowl with Avocado Dressing

Soups and salads:

Chicken and Cucumber Salad with Parsley Pesto

Lemony Greek Chicken Soup

Seafood dishes:

Shrimp and Leek Spaghetti

Panko Salmon with Snap Peas

Healthier burgers and pizza:

Zucchini Pesto Sausage Pizza

Greek Burgers with Herb Feta Sauce