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The Mediterranean Diet had been ranked the Best Overall Diet by US News & World Report for ﬁve years running. In 2022, it was also ranked #1 Best Plant-Based Diet, Best Heart-Healthy Diet, Best Diabetes Diet, Best Diet for Healthy Eating, and Easiest Diet to Follow. Known for its ﬂavorful, satisfying dishes, the Mediterranean Diet comes highly recommended by health professionals and nutrition scientists because of the well-documented health beneﬁts associated with it. And with its emphasis on plant-based ingredients, it’s no surprise that the Mediterranean Diet celebrates whole grains in a big way. Barley, buckwheat, bulgur, farro, freekeh, millet, oats, brown rice, rye, and spelt form the foundation of Mediterranean whole grain eating, with breads, pasta, polenta, and porridges all making regular appearances.
This week marks the start of our annual Oldways Mediterranean Diet Challenge and we invite you to join us as we embark together on a month of Mediterranean-style eating.
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 at its foundation, making up the largest, bottom section of the Mediterranean Diet pyramid. Fish and seafood are consumed a few times a week and small portions of meat, dairy, and cheese are used for extra ﬂavoring or as a garnish on a dish daily to weekly.
And 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 Mediterranean Diet oﬀers a wide spectrum of health beneﬁts to those who embrace this pattern of eating. In fact, evidence shows that the Mediterranean 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 Mediterranean 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 Mediterranean-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 to immerse yourself in the Mediterranean Diet Challenge, check out our Make Every Day Mediterranean menu-plan book and join the Oldways’ Mediterranean Diet Facebook group to connect with others in the community and gain additional support. (Caroline)