Pass the hummus! 8 reasons why you should embrace the Mediterranean diet

1) You can stop counting calories.

Let’s face it. No one likes to count calories. It’s time consuming, it involves math, and it’s inconvenient. Do you really want to pull out a notebook every time you grab a snack? Of course not. That’s why the Mediterranean diet is wonderful. It’s all about quality and sensible substitutions – using olive oil instead of butter, and fresh fruit instead of high-fat, sugary desserts.  (Photo credit: mediterraneandietmealplans.com)

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2) Bread is not your enemy anymore.

Surprise – carbs are not your mortal nemesis! Say goodbye to the Atkins diet and pick up the bread. Whole grains are a staple of the Mediterranean diet. Bread and pasta made with whole grains contain more protein and minerals than their white flour versions, so you won’t experience that awful sugar crash. Enjoy a satisfying whole grain pita with olive oil or hummus for your afternoon snack.

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3) Fat is not evil, either.

We’re programmed to believe that fat is bad. Think again. Good fats can help fight diseases like diabetes and cancer (make sure to avoid the bad saturated and trans fats, commonly found in processed foods). The good fats you’ll find in olives, nuts, and olive oils will keep you healthy and add tons of flavor to your meal.

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4) Variety is the spice of your diet.

No need to worry about feeling deprived. The Mediterranean diet isn’t limited to Greek or Italian—it includes regions like France, Spain, Turkey and Morocco, among others. Just make sure to stick with foods that adhere to the healthy basics: minimal red meat or high-fat dairy, and include fruits, vegetables, olive oil and whole grains.

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5) You can have wine.

Sipping a nice glass of wine with your meal is a relaxing social experience and standard in many Mediterranean countries. A glass per day has been known to offer heart health benefits, so open that bottle of Merlot! Red is the go-to Mediterranean choice, but feel free to enjoy a crisp glass of white (or unsweetened grape juice will suffice).

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6) Fresh, fresh, fresh.

Leave behind the frozen food aisles and processed meals. Mediterranean fare focuses on seasonal, fresh food prepared in simple and delicious ways. Create a colorful salad with spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, and classic Greek ingredients like feta and black olives.

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7) Your heart will be happy.

In addition to keeping your taste buds happy, Mediterranean food will also make your doctor smile – nearly all the fare is good for your heart. Nuts and olive oil help lower cholesterol, while veggies, fruits and beans help keep your arteries clear. Fish can lower triglycerides and blood pressure. And be sure to include that glass of wine.

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8) Your brain will stay healthy.

Word puzzles and numbers games are fun, but you don’t have to rely on those to keep you sharp. The same deliciousness that keeps you heart healthy will also help brain function. The Mediterranean diet focuses on antioxidant-rich food and avoids bad fats and processed foods, which can cause inflammation. And that’s something great to think about!

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