Eating the Med Way

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Would you like to decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and some forms of cancer? Research has demonstrated that eating a Mediterranean style diet can help. This style of eating may also improve eye health and help in managing blood pressure. The Mediterranean-style of eating focuses on foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, herbs, and seafood. Choose one or a few of the following tips if you are interested in transitioning to the med style of eating.

Increase plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods are high in fiber which keeps you feeling full and lowers cholesterol. They also provide our body with important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Examples of whole grains include oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, and popcorn. Whole grains are made up of three parts: the germ, bran, and endosperm. The germ contains B vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. The bran, which is the outside layer, is rich in fiber and antioxidants. Grains become “refined” when one or both of these parts are removed along with their nutritional benefits. And, “enriched” when some of these nutrients are added back to the grain.

Increase your fluid intake, especially if you are adding additional fiber to your diet through fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Including additional water will help prevent an upset stomach or constipation from the extra fiber. Try to aim for naturally sugar-free beverages such as water, unsweetened tea, or coffee. One of my favorite ways of adding flavor to water is to infuse it with fruits and herbs. Some great combinations include cucumber and lemon or basil and strawberry.

Choose foods that are a good source of healthy fats. It is recommended to have at least three ounces of nuts or seeds per week, four tablespoons of olive oil daily, and fatty fish at least weekly. These foods will keep you feeling full long after your meal. And the monounsaturated fats are beneficial for heart health. Even healthy high-fat foods are also high in calories, so make sure to control your portion sizes.

Are you interested in eating the Mediterranean way, but not sure where to start? The Med Instead of Meds Class series through the Cooperative Extension Service will help you Go Med by exploring seven simple steps to eating the Med Way. Learn tips, life hacks, and recipes that will help you eat the Med Way every day. Join our 6-week series to learn more and gain hands-on experience in cooking delicious recipes. The class will meet every Tuesday from 4–6 p.m. from March 19–April 23, 2019, at the Enrichment Center of Lee County. The cost for the entire 6-week series is $20.00. Deadline for registration is March 12, 2019 (registration is limited to first 15 people). For registration information, please call (919)776-0501 ext. 2201.

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension of Lee County’s goal is to provide the residents of the community with research-based knowledge. For more information on food safety, wellness, and nutrition please contact the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Alyssa Anderson, MS, RDN, LDN, at 919-775-5624.