Understand the components of a Mediterranean diet
The first thing to know about the Mediterranean diet is that it focuses on whole, fresh foods, so you can start skipping those middle aisles of the supermarket now. (Here’s how to revamp your grocery store game plan, according to nutritionists.) The key components of Mediterranean cuisine are whole grains; monounsaturated fat found in olive oil, nuts, and avocados; polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, and trout); fat from plant sources, like flaxseed; and moderate amounts of wine and red meat, according to Suzanne Fisher, MS, RD, LDN, registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist in South Florida.
Focus on plant-based foods
On typical American plates, meat is usually the star, probably followed by a starch such as potatoes or rice. The stars of a Mediterranean diet are fresh plant-based foods such as fruits and veggies, nuts, and legumes (beans and peas). “Start by eating five or more servings per day of produce every day and planning a meatless meal, like an Italian garden pizza, at least one night a week,” advises Julie Upton, MS, a registered dietitian in the San Francisco Bay area. “Start most meals with a salad or tomato-based soup, and end your meals with fresh fruit or fruit-based desserts like baked apples or crumbles.” Here are some of the top sources of plant-based protein.