Interested in a plant-based Mediterranean diet? Here are all the ins and outs you need about how to get started with this eating style.
With these tips, following a plant-based Mediterranean lifestyle diet is oh-so possible!
Guess what? The Mediterranean diet isn’t going out of style anytime soon. And you know, it just happened to be crowned the best diet by U.S. News & World Report. So yeah, it’s pretty awesome.
OK great, but what exactly is the Mediterranean diet and how do you follow it?
The thing about the Mediterranean diet is it’s more of a lifestyle plan, meaning you can follow it forever and ever, and I highly doubt you’ll ever get tired of it, versus an actual diet.
This also means there’s no single or “best” way to follow a plant-based Mediterranean diet. And ta-dah! That’s where I come in.
In this article, I’m giving you all the guidance you need on eating like a true Mediterranean by sharing the foods to load up on, foods to eat in moderation, plus energizing snack ideas.
But first, I’m explaining the pros and cons of the Mediterranean diet to help you decide if this eating style is right for you. To be transparent, there are very few Mediterranean diet cons.
My general nutrition guidance more or less follows the basics of the plant-based Mediterranean diet, so these ideas will help you stick to a healthy eating style with much less stress.
By the way, if you love structure when it comes to meal planning, take a sec to check out my new mix-and-match printables for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacktime, and beyond.
How to follow the diet
When it comes to what and how to eat, new trends seem to pop up daily. So how do you figure out which fads to follow and which ones you’re better off skipping?
One food trend that continues to gain traction is the plant-based Mediterranean Diet, consisting primarily of balanced whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains.
I love both the delicious flavors and the many health benefits of Mediterranean-style eating.
We’ve long known eating this way—which involves a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains; and moderate in red wine—may help you live longer and help your heart health.
When you’re focusing your eating on a plant-based Mediterranean diet, here are some tasty ingredients to use in your Mediterranean dishes.
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Feta cheese
- Lemon juice
- Nuts, including almonds
And don’t forget to include time with family and friends, as well as physical activity. These things are all important, in addition to a healthy plant-based Mediterranean diet!
It’s safe to stay that the Mediterranean Diet is one nutrition trend that’s here to stay! In fact, it’s not really a “diet” and is much more of a lifestyle, which is what I prefer.
Even when it wasn’t in the news so much, the Mediterranean diet has been popular for decades and decades and decades.
While traveling to Italy several years ago, I visited Villa Pagnoncelli Folcieri in Bergamo, home to a multi-generational family winery that makes the most amazing red moscato I’ve ever had (well, the only red moscato I’ve ever had!), with layers of earth and fruit flavors.
This red wine and many of the foods I ate while in Italy, including delicious olive oil drizzled on everything from pasta to pizza, are part of the Mediterranean style of eating.
Oh man, am I daydreaming about that trip right now! There are many, many benefits to a plant-based Mediterranean diet.
A study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine shows that Mediterranean-style eating may boost your brain health!
The study authors looked at the exact make-up of the eating style and what should be included.
In the study, 334 older and healthy Spanish volunteers ate either a Mediterranean diet, plus about 5 ounces of olive oil daily, a Mediterranean diet plus about 1 ounce of mixed nuts daily, or a low-fat diet.
The study shows that different types of healthy fats may offer different brain benefits: The people eating a Mediterranean diet plus nuts saw a bigger memory benefit than those in the other groups.
After about four years, people on the Mediterranean-plus-olive-oil diet scored best on cognitive tests.
Study authors believe that the large amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients in that diet help protect the brain and may even help prevent brain degeneration from taking place—which may counteract some age-related cognitive decline.
Now, how about that for benefits of a plant-based Mediterranean diet?
As study shows, eating a Mediterranean Diet could help you live longer.
In the study in BMJ, researchers studied 4,676 middle-aged and older women (ages 42 to 70) who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study prospective cohort.
Researchers used a scoring system to determine subjects’ adherence to the Mediterranean Diet. Volunteers were given points for consuming vegetables (but not potatoes), fruits, nuts, whole grains, legumes and fish.
Of course, on a plant-based Mediterranean diet, you wouldn’t be eating fish, but this study is to show that the Mediterranean diet works for longevity.
They were also given points for having a moderate intake of alcohol and red and processed meats (such as cold cuts and hot dogs) and a healthy ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fats (the types of fats found in nuts and olive oil, versus those found in red meat and baked goods).
The results are exciting: The folks with the highest scores had longer telomeres, which protect DNA. Longer telomeres are linked with younger age, lesser risk of age-related chronic disease and longer life expectancy.
Compared to women with the lowest scores, ladies with the highest had scores equating to a possible longer lifespan of six years. These women ate more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fish and total fat—and less meat.
They also had lower body mass indexes (BMIs, or measures of body fat based on weight and height), were less likely to smoke, ate more calories (on average, 1,984 per day, versus 1,534) and exercised more (an average of about 20 hours weekly, versus about 13).
Authors think that a Mediterranean Diet may help protect telomeres.
On the other hand, inflammation and oxidative stress (decreased by eating antioxidants found in produce, red wine and other foods) in the body may damage and shorten telomeres.
Knowing that eating a plant-based Mediterranean diet could help me live longer, I’m looking forward to incorporating more veggies, fruits, lean proteins and healthy fats into my day.
When it comes to following a plant-based Mediterranean diet, there are many benefits for health, including brain health and a longer lifespan.
- Best Diets Overall, USNews.com
- Mediterranean Diet and Age-Related Cognitive Decline: A Randomized Clinical Trial, JAMA Internal Medicine
- A study in BMJ
I’d love to hear from you! Let me know if you’re following a plant-based Mediterranean diet.
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