What is the Mediterranean Diet and Why is it so Popular

by Fit Body Team in Recipes + Nutrition

When you think of the Mediterranean, what comes to mind? For us, it’s the crystal blue water, the dolce vita lifestyle, and the amazing food. In fact, the Mediterranean diet was actually named the best diet four years in a row by U.S. News & World Report. And we have to say, we aren’t that surprised.

What is the Mediterranean Diet? 

If you don’t know what the Mediterranean diet is, let’s clear it up for you. While there isn’t one set Mediterranean diet (since the people living in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean all eat in slightly different ways), it’s based upon an active lifestyle and the foods that people living in the Mediterranean region eat on the reg. The diet advocates for foods like fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and healthy fats (think olive oil and nuts) consumed daily, fish and seafood eaten often, poultry and dairy in moderation and red meat on occasion — all foods with a focus on nutrients, which is an important component of healthy eating

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What Makes the Mediterranean Diet So Popular? 

Aside from incorporating delicious foods and the occasional glass of wine, there are a number of reasons why the Mediterranean diet has become so popular. First and foremost, you can’t ignore the health benefits that come with this style of eating.  

According to Fit Body’s in-house Registered Dietitian, Kylie Morse, the Mediterranean diet is one of the most well-studied diets. It’s touted for having a number of health benefits which Morse says is supported by research.  

“The Mediterranean diet is most well known for being very heart-healthy, due to its high use of quality, anti-inflammatory oils and fats. It is also higher in fiber, micronutrients, and antioxidants from all of the fruits and vegetables that the people of this region consume. Overall, it has been shown to lead to higher life expectancy and quality of health long-term,” explained Morse. 

In addition to being a healthy way of eating, it’s also a flexible way of eating that isn’t restrictive. Most diets fail because they make you omit foods (and sometimes whole food groups) from your diet. This is always a recipe for disaster and doesn’t encourage balance which is essential for long-term sustainability. While the Mediterranean diet recommends that you limit certain foods, it doesn’t make you remove anything. It simply asks you to consider eating more of certain food types.  

People are also a fan of the Mediterranean diet because it isn’t all about weight loss. Yes, it can lead to weight loss, but the focus is much more on being healthy and living a longer life.

The 7 Key Ingredients Used in the Mediterranean Diet (and Common Examples!) 

Vegetables
Eggplant
Spinach
Mushrooms
Leeks 

Fruit 
Cherries
Dates
Figs
Pomegranates 

Whole Grains
Barley
Farro
Oats
Couscous
Poultry and Eggs
Chicken
Eggs 

Fish + Seafood
Crab
Salmon
Tuna
Tilapia 

Cheese + Yogurt
Feta cheese
Greek yogurt 

Herbs and Spices
Basil
Garlic
Sumac
Chiles

9 Easy Ways to Incorporate the Mediterranean Diet Into Your Meal Plan 

If you’ve already chosen a meal plan in the Fit Body app, you’re in luck — we’ve just added a bunch of Mediterranean-inspired meals within the recipe section. There are also tons of easy ways to incorporate the Mediterranean diet into your meal plan so that they still fit your macros and/or nutrition goals! Here are a few tasty suggestions: 

Breakfast 

• If you’re sick of eggs, try out Martina’s vegan frittata! It uses chickpea flour and potatoes to make a filling, delicious breakfast.* •
• More of a fan of oatmeal? Mix in some Greek yogurt and cherries into your oat bowl. 

Lunch 

• Salad is always a classic. Try out Brittany’s tasty bruschetta chicken and avocado side salad.*
• Whip up a lunch wrap (with tortillas or lettuce leaves) and add in some cooked salmon and spinach.
• Make Martina’s pasta with broccoli, which uses olive oil, a classic Mediterranean ingredient. * 

Snack 

• Green smoothies are an easy way to incorporate tons of fresh fruit and spinach.
• Salmon avocado and cream cheese roll ups are oh so delicious and only take a couple of minutes to make. * 

Dinner 

• What could be more comforting than risotto? Try Martina’s delicious risotto with pumpkin. *
• Cook up some vegetable forward lemon pepper roasted chicken and veggies (think zucchini, eggplant and squash). * 

*To find these recipes, simply go to the Fit Body App, click on the meals section (symbolized by the fork and knife icon), click either the plus icon or on “Add Food,” click on “Recipes” and then enter the name of the recipe for the full ingredient list, directions and nutritional information.

If you’re looking for a new and healthy style of eating, give the Mediterranean diet a shot! It’s RD approved and full of healthy, nourishing fats, and quality proteins. Morse recommends that you consider adopting these principles into your daily eating habits, even if you don’t fully transition to a Mediterranean style of eating. 

Let us know if you incorporate any of the above ingredients, or meals, or try out one of our recipes! 

 

Fit Body’s registered dietitian Kylie Morse created this delicious Greek chicken bowl especially for our FBG blog readers — make it tonight!

Greek Chicken Bowl

Serves 1

Nutrition Info: aCalories: 347  |  Protein: 35 g  |  Carbs: 27 g  |  Fats: 11 g

Ingredients:

Cooked Chicken Breast, chopped, 115 g
Cucumber, cubed, 85 g
Red Onion, sliced, 20 g
Tomato, chopped, 70 g
Sliced Black Llives (or Olive of choice), 20 g
Crunchy Chickpeas, 15 g
Greek Yogurt Tzatziki, 1 tbsp
Crumbled Feta Cheese, 1 tbsp 

Instructions:

Chop cucumber, onion, and tomato, add to bowl with olives and crunchy chickpeas.

Season chicken to preference. Cook chicken in the oven, on the grill, or in the air fryer until 165 degrees Celsius inside and fully cooked. Chop and add to the bowl with the veggies, olives and chickpeas.

Top with Greek yogurt Tzatziki and sprinkle Feta cheese on top. Enjoy!

*Feel free to add any other ingredients you’d like to make this recipe your own! Some other great additions to these bowls would be avocado, bell peppers, mozzarella, or quinoa!


When it’s Luca’s turn to make dinner, this fish dish is one of his favorites.

Garlic Crusted Salmon

Serves 2

Nutrition Info: Calories: 236  |  Protein: 23 g  |  Carbs: 0 g  |  Fats: 16 g

Ingredients:

2 salmon filets, 3-4 ozs.
Olive oil, 1 Tbsp.
Garlic Flakes, 1 tsp.
Salt
Pepper
Paprika, ½ tsp.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 420 degrees

Place salmon filets on a baking foil. Divide olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika between the filets and apply in that order. Divide the garlic flakes and add ½ tsp to each filet to create a crust on top. 

Bake the garlic-crusted filets in the oven for about 20 mins. Cooking time will depend on the size of the filet. Remove your filets from the oven and switch the dial to broil. Put the salmon back in and broil for 5 minutes. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.


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