If you've heard anything about the Mediterranean diet, you probably know it's viewed as more of a lifestyle than a diet. The list of foods you can enjoy is a long one, the diet has some majorly impressive health benefits, and you can still indulge in the occasional slice (or two) of cake.
"I think that is why the Mediterranean diet is so successful and such a healthy way of living," Brynn McDowell, RD, told POPSUGAR. "I personally don't think any foods should be avoided all the time (unless you have certain medical conditions). Instead, focus on incorporating more of the fresh, healthy Mediterranean diet foods into your everyday meals, and enjoy other foods in moderation." Specifically, Brynn suggests limiting how frequently you add these items to your cart:
- Packaged snacks and baked goods: The Mediterranean diet earned its heart-healthy status largely because "the unsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds, and olive oil can play a large role in reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease," Brynn said. Unfortunately, "many packaged foods and baked goods are loaded with unhealthy saturated and trans fats, as well as added sugars. Focusing on fresh foods helps limit these ingredients," she explained. When purchasing nuts or other packaged foods, give the label a once-over to check for these additives. And you'll probably want to steer clear of the snack aisle and the bakery altogether.
- Alcohol: "While the Mediterranean diet does encourage and support drinking red wine for antioxidants and heart health, it also emphasises drinking in moderation, as well as limiting hard alcohol to the occasional drink," Brynn said. Translation: having a glass of wine with dinner one or two nights a week can be good, but happy hour cocktails every night after work . . . not so much.
- Red meat: One of the primary goals of the Mediterranean diet is to include more vegetables, whole grains, heart-healthy fish, and legumes. "These should be the stars of your meals, while limiting red meat to moderate consumption due to its higher levels of saturated fat and cholesterol," Brynn advised. Instead of burgers and brats, make shrimp and salmon your dinnertime staples.