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Food List, Meal Plan And More – Forbes Health

Luckily, Mediterranean diet foods aren’t unusual or hard to find, but they are fresh. “Because it’s based on fresh and lightly processed plant foods, the Mediterranean diet is rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, which are protective plant compounds,” says Ward. Below is a list of Mediterranean diet-approved foods and how they can benefit your health.

Vegetables and Fruit

Eating plenty of vegetables can help prevent cardiovascular disease, according to a 2017 article in the journal Nutrients. And a diet that relies on vegetables and fruit can prevent some cancers, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Legumes and Whole Grains

Legumes (or all kinds of beans, including lentils) help regulate blood sugar and may have anti-cancer effects. They also provide protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron and other nutrients. Meanwhile, whole grains are also rich in fiber and contain minerals and phytochemicals, and lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Olive Oil and Nuts

The Mediterranean diet relies heavily on extra-virgin olive oil, an unsaturated fat source proven to help lower the chance of stroke and heart attack and reduce blood pressure.

Nuts are nutritional powerhouses, packed with unsaturated fat, protein, fiber and B vitamins. Most nuts contain magnesium, which helps support healthy blood pressure and blood sugar and keeps bones strong, among other benefits. And walnuts specifically contain alpha-linoleic acid, an important omega-3 fatty acid that might reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Fish

The Mediterranean diet prioritizes fish over other meat sources. “Fish and shellfish provide high-quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids that promote heart and brain health and help fight chronic inflammation, and several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D and selenium,” Ward says. “Coldwater fish, such as salmon, have more [healthy] fats than warmer-water fish, but all seafood offers some omega-3s.”

Red Wine and Dairy in Moderation

This diet “allows for small amounts of wine with meals, but you don’t have to start drinking if you don’t already,” says Ward. “And the operative word in the recommendation is ‘small.’” The American Heart Association says this means one 5-ounce glass a day for women, and two for men. Some studies suggest that wine, especially red wine which is rich in phytonutrients, has a beneficial effect on the heart, but the results are unclear.

Meanwhile, the Mediterranean diet encourages the consumption of dairy products such as eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation. These provide calcium, phosphorus, vitamins A and D, protein and saturated fat.

Measuring portions isn’t necessary with this diet, but moderation is key. “It’s important to remember that the eating pattern matters most, and no single food used in the Mediterranean diet, such as olive oil, is a magic bullet for better health,” explains Ward. “For example, you can’t slather as much olive oil as you want on your foods or eat as much feta cheese or nuts as you like.”

Sweets and Meat on Rare Occasions

Eat sweets and meat sparingly on the Mediterranean diet. Avoid junk food, or packaged foods that contain added sugar, saturated fat or salt but few nutrients.

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