10 Easy Mediterranean Diet Swaps to Make Today
Nov 13, 2021
The Mediterranean diet is consistently a top contender on the best-rated diets list, and it’s no surprise why.
Studies show that the diet — rich in fruit, veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats — promotes weight loss, slows aging, and can even cut your risk of cardiovascular disease in half.
And the best news of all is that it may just be one of the easiest diets to adhere to.
Surprisingly unrestrictive, you can still enjoy bread and even alcohol on the plan. And you don’t have to completely overhaul your diet to reap the benefits:
Making some of these small swaps today, will add up to big health benefits tomorrow.
1. Swap Beef for Salmon
The Mediterranean diet encourages the consumption of fish at least twice per week. High in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is a heart-healthy choice that is rich enough in flavor to live up to your favorite beefy meal.
Swap out your beef burger for a salmon burger, and instead of grilling up a steak for dinner, give this super easy Grilled Salmon With Mustard and Herbs a try.
2. Swap Butter for Olive Oil
Is butter your go-to topping for pasta, steamed veggies, and bread?
Here's a good reason to replace it with olive oil: Not only does it contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that can aid in lowering cholesterol, but a July 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that adding an extra serving of olive oil and nuts to a Mediterranean diet can improve memory in older adults.
Even more promising, a study published in the September 2015 edition of the journal found that women who followed the Mediterranean diet supplemented with 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day had a lower risk of malignant breast cancer than those advised to reduce their fat intake.
Enjoy olive oil drizzled on pasta and steamed veggies or sprinkled with ground pepper and served as a dip for a loaf of whole wheat bread.
3. Swap Beer for Red Wine
Yes, you can still imbibe a little — just choose your drink of choice carefully! The Mediterranean diet allows for red wine in moderation (on a daily basis that translates into one 5-ounce glass for women, two for men).
So instead of grabbing a beer filled with empty calories, pour yourself a glass of red wine, which contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that may help lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease.
4. Swap Rolls for Whole Wheat Pita
A diet where bread is still on the menu? Sign us up! Sandwiches and bread baskets are fair game — simply swap white, bleached flour for whole grain varieties.
Whole wheat pitas are a smart choice; not only are you getting a healthy dose of whole grains, but pitas tend to be lower in calories than rolls and slices of bread.
5. Swap Jelly for Berries
Fruits and vegetables should be staples of every healthy eating plan, and the Mediterranean diet is no exception, emphasizing that every meal is built around plant-based foods.
If you’re a PB and J lover ditch the sugar-laden, processed jelly and opt for fresh berries instead. Layer sliced strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries on top of your peanut butter toast for a sweet and salty sandwich without any of the added sugars.
Or make your own spread by pulsing berries in a blender until you reach a chunky, jelly-like consistency and use as you would jelly — on sandwiches and toast and stirred into oatmeal.
6. Swap Penne Vodka for Pasta Puttanesca
Dining out Italian? Keep the bowl of pasta, but make the sauce puttanesca.
Packed with Mediterranean flavors and ingredients like garlic, olive oil, capers, and anchovies, the sauce is a lighter alternative to cream-based vodka sauce.
Get bonus points by making it with whole wheat pasta!
7. Swap Salt for Herbs and Spices
Put down the salt shaker! Mediterranean cuisine is big on herbs and spices — a super easy swap that we can all benefit from. To season dishes, rely on your spice rack for calorie-free additions that pump up the flavor of the dish without any added sodium.
Fresh herbs are a best kept secret in the kitchen, turning even the most basic dishes into an impressive meal. Basil’s fresh taste really livens up pasta recipes, while chopped mint brightens grain-based salads and rich meats like lamb. When it comes to spices, use ginger to add a zesty kick to stir-fries and smoky paprika for meat rubs and stews.
8. Swap Mayo for Avocado
One of the easiest ways to shave calories from your lunchtime sandwich is to ditch the mayo. But let’s be honest, sometimes that schmear of creamy mayonnaise takes your sandwich from typical to tasty.
Luckily, you can have a satisfying sandwich that’s good for you, too, thanks to avocado. With a similar thick, creamy texture, avocados are filled with heart-healthy fats, fiber, and potassium.
9. Swap Granola Bars for a Nut Mix
Granola is one of those so-called healthy foods that doesn’t always earn its good name. Many store-bought brands are made with processed ingredients and refined sugars, which Mediterranean diet shies away from.
Skip processed varieties that are usually packed with sodium and hit the bulk section of your grocery store to stock up on assorted unsalted nuts of your choice. Enjoy them raw or toss them with a tablespoon of olive oil and spices and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.
10. Swap Turkey for Beans
When it comes to beefing up your brown bag, deli meats are often the go-to salad topper. But meats like turkey and ham, which tend to be high in sodium, are recommended as occasional fare on the Mediterranean diet.
Instead, top your salad with fiber- and protein-rich beans — with a variety to choose from, the plant-based food helps keep things interesting, while offering up a hefty dose of nutrition.
To Sum It Up
Start swapping the everyday food with a healthier mediterranean friendly food.
How to get started?
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