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Eat for your health, the Mediterranean way

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By Cindy Crowninshield, RDN, LDN, HHC
Age well and enjoy doing it!
That’s South Shore Senior News’s mission for its readers, and it fits perfectly with the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. This eating plan may not only add more years to your life; it’s delicious, too! With just a few simple dietary changes at home or at work, you may give yourself many more pleasurable moments. Ready to plan your next five vacations, or troop through museums with your grandchildren? Take time for a Mediterranean eating holiday first—right here on the South Shore!
What is the traditional Mediterranean Diet? It’s a natural, wholesome mix of foods like fresh vegetables, fruit, fresh fish, whole grains, legumes, and olive oil. Elegant in its simplicity, this flavorful “prescription for good health” has been linked to many powerful benefits. Research indicates that the Mediterranean Diet may help prevent heart disease, stave off cancer, and improve cognitive function.
Depending on your food choices, how you prepare them (e.g., steaming as opposed to frying), and portion sizes, meals based on the Mediterranean Diet will have fewer calories, less salt and added sugar, more fiber, and less saturated/trans fat than traditional meals while still tasting great. In short, whether you’re looking to take better care of yourself after a bypass or a diagnosis of high blood pressure, or you are seeking alternatives to comfort foods like ice cream, the Mediterranean Diet has something to offer you.
Following are some tips for incorporating this diet gradually:

  • Add one to two teaspoons of olive oil every day to your lunch or dinner—as part of a dressing with lemon, on steamed vegetables, or in place or butter. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat which may help regulate your cholesterol and your blood pressure.
  • Eat the equivalent of 1.5 cups of fruit (e.g., a Macintosh apple and mandarin orange) every day to improve digestion. Choose fruit over juice for more fiber.
  • Add a tasty grain-based side dish to your meal such as couscous. I love combining this dish with other ingredients such as diced vegetables (e.g., bell peppers in different colors, carrots, celery, and cucumbers), feta cheese, sunflower seeds, chickpeas, and raisins or other dried fruit. Boost up the protein in the dish with salmon, and it will become a complete meal.
  • Get plenty of Omega-3 (heart-healthy) oils by eating fattier fishes twice a week. Put tuna on your salad at lunch, and have salmon for dinner with rice and vegetables. If you don’t enjoy fish, take a daily fish oil supplement providing 1,100-1,600 milligrams of Omega-3.
  • Add other healthy oils to your diet, too, like avocado, nuts, and seeds. (Watch portions, though.)
  • Change up your breakfast. Try scrambled eggs with vegetables and olive oil, cooked on the stovetop or your microwave. Add a piece of fruit to your morning routine, as well.

The Mediterranean Diet is not only enjoyable; it can be a key part of your plan for a longer, healthier, and more fulfilling life. Explore and continue to savor!

About the Author

Cindy Crowninshield, RDN, LDN, HHC is a licensed registered dietitian and nutrition educator in private practice. Her office is located in Ashland, Massachusetts, and she sees patients throughout Greater Boston and the South Shore. Cindy teaches individuals about the nutrition connection to symptoms and health issues. She empowers patients of all ages to organize themselves in health and wellness through a whole foods approach and making healthy lifestyle changes—using highly individualized nutrition plans. Visit www.CindyCrowninshield.com for more information.
Reprinted from the April 2019 edition of the South Shore Senior News.

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