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If you’re looking to incorporate more whole grains into your meals, the Mediterranean Diet (or Med Diet) is a great place to look for inspiration. This traditional pattern of eating is both ﬂavorful and satisfying, and comes highly recommended by health professionals and nutrition scientists because of the well-documented health beneﬁts associated with it. The month of May is International Mediterranean Diet Month, which means that here at the Oldways Whole Grains Council, we’re taking this opportunity to ﬁll our plates with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, ﬁsh, nuts and olive oil!
So What Is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean Diet reﬂects a way of eating that is traditional in the countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea, including Italy, Greece, Spain, Turkey, Israel, and Egypt. Whole grains and other plant-based foods are the foundation of the Med Diet, making up the largest, bottom section of the Med Diet pyramid. Fish and seafood are consumed a few times a week and small portions of meat, dairy and cheese are used extra ﬂavoring or as a garnish on a dish daily to weekly.
But it goes beyond food – after all, there’s more to being healthy and happy than just eating great food. Shifting toward a vibrant Mediterranean lifestyle means getting outside, being more active, and sharing the pleasure of delicious eating with family and friends.
What Are the Health Beneﬁts of the Mediterranean Diet?
Decades of scientiﬁc research indicate that the Med Diet oﬀers a wide spectrum of health beneﬁts to those who embrace this pattern of eating. In fact, evidence shows that the Med Diet can help you:
- Lower your risk of heart disease
- Lower your risk of high blood pressure
- Lower your risk of type 2 diabetes
- Fight certain cancers and chronic diseases
- Achieve weight loss and weight management goals
- Resist depression
- Reduce asthma
- Ward oﬀ Parkinson’s Disease
Whole Grains, Mediterranean-Style
The Med Diet is packed with delicious whole grain options, from bulgur and barley, to farro and freekeh. It’s very easy to incorporate the delicious ﬂavor and unmatched texture of whole grains into every meal you eat. Here are a few of our favorite ways to eat whole grains with a Mediterranean ﬂair:
- Top your yogurt with granola
- Cook up oatmeal and top it with fruit and nuts
- Add a little cooked farro or sorghum to your next veggie omelet or scrambled eggs
- Take a whole grain tortilla, pita pocket, or slice of toast and smear it with nut butter, top it with sliced avocado, or spoon on some ricotta and fresh fruit
- Add bulgur or quinoa to your salad
- Create your own whole wheat pasta salad with vegetables, herbs, and some salmon or chicken
- Make a hummus sandwich with whole wheat pita bread and grilled vegetables
- Top your whole grain toast with a bean salad
- Add half a cup of your favorite grain to your vegetable soup, for a hearty twist
- Make Med-style pita pizzas topped with your favorite vegetables
- Cook up some whole grain pasta and mix in sautéed or roasted vegetables
- Instead of serving plain rice or potatoes with your meal, make a grain-and-veggie salad as a side
- Enjoy a meze platter with whole grain crackers or bread, hummus, tabbouleh, olives, dried fruit and sliced veggies
If you’re looking for other ways to immerse yourself in all the Med Month excitement, check out our How Well Do You Know Mediterranean Foods? quiz, follow along on our Med Month Calendar, and show us how you’re celebrating by using #MedDietMonth on social media. (Caroline)