THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET SHOPPING LIST – Eating Well Magazine
A great body of evidence shows that this way of eating plant-based foods, healthy fats, lean proteins, whole grains in modern amounts of wine may help you live longer and stave off chronic disease such as heart disease and diabetes. One key component of the Mediterranean diet is the emphasis on foods that may thwart inflammation and oxidative stress which is at the root of many chronic diseases. These foods include omega-3 rich fish, fruits, and vegetables, nuts and seeds and healthy oils. The dietary pattern is particularly rich in monounsaturated fats which can help decrease bad LDL cholesterol and raise good HDL cholesterol – a win win for the cardiovascular system plus, the heightened emphasis on plant-based foods ensures a bounty of fiber and phyto- nutrients.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL is at the core of the Med Diet. It is rich in tocopherols (vitamin E), carotenoids (vitamin A), and polyphenols. Alternatives include avocado oil and walnut oil.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES) (from any source – fresh, frozen, canned). Emphasize kale, beet greens, mustard greens, collard greens, artichokes, beets, broccoli, cucumber, eggplant, mushrooms, onions. Garlic is a mainstay in cooking.
Common fruits include apples, apricots, avocados, berries, citrus, dates, figs, stone fruit and pomegranate. Lemons are often used.
FRESH HERBS AND SPICES are staples. Their use reduces the need to add excess salt plus provide many antioxidants. Most common are parsley basil, oregano coriander, bay leaves.
FRESH AND CANNED SEAFOOD provide necessary protein and healthy fats. Omega-3 rich fish such as tuna, sardines, and salmon as well as mussels, clams and shrimp. Consumption is encouraged about twice a week.
WHOLE GRAINS. Wheat is the most common, but other grains like farro, bulgur, couscous, and barley are also favorites. Look for the term “whole” or “whole grain” that should be the first ingredient listed on the ingredient label.
LEGUMES. One of the most prevalent pulses in Mediterranean cuisine is the chickpea, which is often whipped into hummus, formed in falafel and tossed into salads. Lentils are also commonly used in soups and stews. Other meals can include black Eyed Peas, kidney beans and cannellini beans that often are tossed into salads.
NUTS AND SEEDS are enjoyed as a satisfying snack thanks to their fiber, protein, and fat content. A common condiment on the coastline of the Mediterranean is tahini , which is made from ground sesame seeds . Most famously used in hummus this versatile condiment can be used in sauces or dressings to spoon over roasted veggies or grain bowls.
OLIVES AND CAPERS are enjoyed as a simple snack and are among the most popular as Kalamata olives often tossed into Greek salads and pasta or into a tapenade. Olives are rich sources of antioxidant polyphenols and heart healthy fats. Brined or dried, capers are praised for their briny bite and the way they effortlessly punch up the flavor of pasta, baked fish and dressings.
CANNED TOMATOES Whole, diced, stewed or concentrated into a paste, both canned and fresh tomatoes are everyday staples in the Mediterranean . Canned tomato products are particularly rich in lycopene due to the heating process which may help protect against certain cancers. A few tomato centric staples in the Mediterranean include stuffed tomatoes, baked fish with tomatoes and of course, marinara sauce.
GREEK YOGURT AND ARTISANAL CHEESES The Mediterranean diet encourages savoring small amounts of full fat dairy, in addition to providing extra protein. Yogurt can provide healthy probiotics for the microbiome. Be sure to watch the labels and avoid those with a lot of added sugars. The Mediterranean regions spotlights traditionally cultured cheeses made from milk and natural cultures as to some of the more processed varieties (Velveeta) commonly available in the US. The French are famous for their love of hard cheeses eaten in moderation (not added to fast foods). They offer cheese with fruit as a dinner course.
Beyond being used in the classic Greek salad, feta cheese often accompanies stews and fish dishes. Halloumi cheese is known for its firm texture, which makes it suitable for grilling and frying. Harder cheeses like Pecorino Romano and Parmegiano Reggiano are often grated into pasta., while manchego can be baked into egg dishes.
RED WINE. Vine is a common accompaniment to Mediterranean meals, but it’s generally consumed in moderation (a five ounce pour is the standard.) Red wine, in particular, contains antioxidant polyphenols and the flavonoid resveratrol , which will help increase HDL cholesterol (good) and decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.