People who eat a Mediterranean-style diet with generous healthy fat intake and a liberal intake of produce, dried beans and peas, grains and fish see a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Move to Mediterranean-style meals

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Does Mediterranean-style eating sound good to you? It does to me too, and it just might be one of the healthiest things that we can do for ourselves. As we know, the leading causes of illness and death in developed countries continue to be diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular events. How might we get protection from these diseases? A Mediterranean approach to eating might do the trick.

Researchers looked at folks who were liberal with their healthy fat intake and included two or more components of the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean components included: 

Liberal intake of:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Whole-grains such as pasta and barley
  • Fish

Moderate intake of:

  • Red meat
  • Dairy

The conclusions from their research? Folks who ate a Mediterranean-style diet with generous healthy fat intake and a liberal intake of produce, dried beans and peas, grains and fish saw a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.

What foods are limited in the Mediterranean diet? Sugars and sweet desserts, refined grains, and saturated fats. Having a healthy food foundation may be just the ticket for living a long healthy life.

Perhaps a few meals each week can be revamped to move in a Mediterranean direction. Swap out instant oatmeal packets with old-fashioned oats. You can still cook them quickly in the microwave. Enjoy tuna fish salad made with olive oil mayonnaise on whole-grain bread rather than deli meat on white bread. Dinner time – will your family enjoy a hearty white bean soup and side salad to keep the meal vegetarian? Use oil and vinegar dressing on the salad to get in those good-for-you fats.

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.