The Mediterranean Diet … and a Quick Lunch Idea!

Peoples around the Mediterranean Sea have long been known to live longer and suffer fewer cancers and cardiovascular ailments. Their diet—the Mediterranean diet–has long been touted as heart-healthy and now the longest and most scientific research study into their diet has confirmed it. The study received tremendous media attention last month. How convenient the news was published just before Nutrition Month!

Olive oil and the Mediterranean diet for heart healthy nutritionA Mediterranean diet includes extra-virgin olive oil and nuts, particularly walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds.  It also emphasizes fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, beans, seeds, legumes, and flavorful herbs and spices. Fish is good two or three times a week. Have poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt in moderation. Add a bit of dark chocolate and a splash of red wine. Red meat and baked sweets should be eaten rarely. Save those for special occasions. Remember to exercise and stay physically fit and you’ll do wonders for your heart, and your health.

The Mediterranean Diet checked in at #4 in this year’s US News & World Report‘s“Best Heart-Healthy Diets” report. After reading about it, I created a super-easy variation of Greek pasta salad. I substituted white beans for the pasta, added ingredients standard to Greek salads–cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, and black olives–as well as green olives and red onions, and dressed it with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice and basil. I refrigerated it for a few hours to let the flavors meld. With some whole-grain crackers, it was a light and tasty heart-healthy lunch. I had a piece of dark chocolate for dessert. Good eats!

— Gregg

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