There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about what we should eat to stay healthy. With so much contradiction, it’s hard to know which foods are best. But recently, U.S. News & World Report set the record straight when it named the Mediterranean-style eating pattern a top best diet.
This came as no surprise to chef, television personality and educator Amy Riolo, who taught a series of of classes at the Chautauqua Institute this week, and who will teach another series there on “Italian Cuisine” and “Pasta Making,” July 9 through 12. A longtime ambassador of the Mediterranean diet, she recommends it to anyone who wants to enjoy better health—especially if you are one of the 25 million people in the U.S. with diabetes.
“If you have diabetes, embracing the foods of the Mediterranean region is one of the healthiest choices you could make,” says Riolo, author of the American Diabetes Association’s “The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook 2nd Edition: A Flavorful, Heart-Healthy Approach to Cooking.”
The Mediterranean diet and lifestyle have been linked to many impressive health outcomes. These include: preventing heart attacks and strokes, preventing diabetes and reducing the amount of medications needed to manage diabetes, longevity, reducing inflammation, reducing risk of death from hearth disease and certain cancers, preventing cancer and inhibiting tumor Growth.
Here’s some tips to eat “Mediterranean” style:
1. Eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables. These make up the foundation of the Mediterranean diet.
2. Get your grains (the backbone of the Mediterranean-style eating pattern). These plant-based foods are naturally low in saturated fat and cholesterol. These nutritional powerhouses help us look and feel our very best. You can eat grains in soups and breads or enjoy servings of rice, grain, pasta, couscous, and quinoa.
3. Don’t forget about beans, nuts, legumes, herbs and spices. Legumes like peas, chickpeas, lentils and soybeans and nuts are mild in flavor and high in protein and fiber., says Riolo, and are delicious with the help of herbs, spices and a splash of olive oil.
4. Enjoy plenty of fish and seafood. Consuming fish even once a week can have positive health benefits.
5. Get moderate amounts of poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt. Eating poultry and dairy on a daily to weekly basis is recommended in the Mediterranean diet.
6. Eat meats less often. When you do choose to eat a serving of meat, make sure it is surrounded with plenty of plant-based foods and crunchy salads, so you do not fill up on meat alone and miss out on the nutrients that the other ingredients have to offer.
7. Save desserts for special occasions. Sugar was historically expensive in the Mediterranean region; therefore, fruit was often eaten at the end of a meal. This remains a better choice for everyone today.
Don’t forget to embrace the Mediterranean lifestyle too, Riolo says. More than just an eating pattern, the Mediterranean diet incorporates a lifestyle that further promotes health and wellness. Every culture in the Mediterranean has its own way of encouraging people to eat together, focus on family life and stay active. Take time to prepare healthy home cooked meals. Eat alongside friends, coworkers or family members. And make time to go for walks, go to the gym or get active in other ways.
For more information on Amy Riolo, visit www.amyriolo.com.