Implementing the Med Diet - Part One
Do you think you eat enough plants in your diet? How many plants do you eat in a week? Not refined grains, but plants. You can cook them, boil, bake, microwave, roast them or even eat them raw. How many? Further, it's not just eating more volume of plants, it's diversity.
Mediterranean Diet and Plants
Adherence to the Mediterranean diet depends more on plants.
- Fruits, Tree Nuts, Seeds
- Whole Grains
- Olive oil
When it comes to plants, more is better. But not just in quantity of plants, but also diversity.
Think about this: there is no one plant that can provide all the micronutrients and macronutrients a person needs. We tell vegetarians to use several plant sources for complete proteins, the same is true for any nutrient.
Gut Bugs and Plants
Your gut contains a trillion bugs. There are more of them than of us. But what do they eat? It turns out, most of what they eat are the things we don't. Gut bugs eat plant parts. Without them eating those plant parts, we would be far worse off. Thus, the gut microbiome is an exciting research field.
Guts break down fiber to chemicals shown to:
- Decrease the risk of colon cancer
- Lower cholesterol
- Decrease blood sugar spikes
- Decrease depression
- Allow absorption of polyphenols
Fiber is an Essential Nutrient
Plants provide vitamins, minerals, macro and micronutrients. A single source of plants cannot provide the nutrients a person requires, which has been the main reason we recommend a diversified diet. Fiber is also a nutrient, an essential nutrient, one that humans cannot make, but without it there is clearly an increase in disease. While those on the extreme of low-carb diets will disagree, the literature is unambiguous.
Fiber supplements are not a substitute. Some are expensive, one selling for over $150 a month. But no supplement gives you the diversity of nutrients that you can get from your diet. Mother Nature gives you a better deal. So, eat your fiber, don't buy a supplement.
Now begin to chart your diversity
Today's assignment is simple: begin to chart the diversity in your diet, so that you increase the sources of your plants. One of my favorite dieticians, Dr. Megan Rossie, suggests a person has 30 plant-based foods per week. Sound impossible? Let's try it using the Meditereanean Diet.
It isn't that difficult to implement, but consider that you want to consume the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients, and there is no one plant that does this. But many will.
One Mediterranean diet point is achieved by consuming 9 ounces of vegetables per day. Run through the list of vegetables that you can add to your diet in any given week.
- Bok Choi
- Brussels Sprouts
- Black beans
- Butter beans
- Green beans
- Kidney beans
- Navy beans
- Pinto beans
- Navy beans
- Brown Rice
- Whole wheat
- Red rice
- Brazil nuts
- Pine nuts
- Flax seeds
- Poppy seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Squash seeds
These provide a diversity of micronutrients, macronutrients and fiber.
All of which provide a healthy diet.
But let's not forget one of the most important plants:
Perhaps the most important part of the Mediterranean Diet is this plant.
Overnight oats, which in my recipe has oats, chia seeds, and in the morning I add blueberries and peanut butter. There are four different plants.
A whole grain sandwich to which I add: tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce
Add an apple
The whole grain can have multiple grains in it.Snack:
A handful of almonds
Want some pasta - how about the sauce? Start the sauce with onions, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, all in olive oil.
You haven't even had a salad yet.
On this day, we have 15.
Salads are a great way to add seeds, nuts, and even some legumes.
Buy the mixed vegetables not just the broccoli.
The standard fast-food taco is a lot of ground beef, a lot of cheese, and a smear of sauce.
My taco is: lots of cabbage which I have for a slaw and other great crunch
My salsa has some amazing fresh ingredients in it like my mango salsa
And cheese and meat are more of a condiment. But you can reduce the meat by using lentils and mushrooms.
Vegetable soups in the winter! Lots of additions here for vegetables.
Diversity is not only healthy, but it is delicious.