Fruits

1 to 2 servings per meal

One serving of fruit = 1 cup fresh, ½ cup canned, or ¼ cup dried

This groups includes all fruits. Fresh, frozen, dried, or canned fruits are all included as long as no sugar has been added. Fruits contain a naturally occurring naturally sugar, called fructose, this is what makes it taste sweet. Fructose is an energy source for the body.

Fruits are great source of energy, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fruits are low in fat, sodium, calories and have no cholesterol. Fruits add color to meals and snacks. Choose a variety of different colored fruits since they each offer slightly different nutrient profiles.

Fruits are rich in potassium, vitamin C, and folic acid. Potassium can help regulate blood pressure. Bananas, melons, oranges, prunes, dried peaches and apricots are fruits that are a good source of potassium. Vitamin C helps the body’s immune system and wound healing abilities. Strawberries, citrus fruits, kiwis, papayas, and guavas are a good source of vitamin C. Folic acid helps with blood cell development and can help prevent certain birth defects. Folic acid can be found in orange juice and papayas.

Whole, cut, canned, pureed fruits all provide soluble fiber. Fruit juices however are not a source of fiber. Fiber can help to reduce cholesterol, create a feeling of fullness, and promote bowel regularity.

To get the most nutrition for your dollar choose fresh fruits that are in season. For example, apples in the fall, cirtus in winter, strawberries in spring, and blueberries in summer. In the off season choose unsweetened frozen, canned, or dried fruits.

To get the most nutrition for your dollar choose fresh fruits that are in season. For example, apples in the fall, cirtus in winter, strawberries in spring, and blueberries in summer. In the off season choose unsweetened frozen, canned, or dried fruits.

Vegetables

2 or more servings each meal

One serving of vegetables = 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked or canned

This groups includes all vegetables. Fresh, frozen, dried, or canned vegetables are all included as long as no salt and/or sugar have been added. Vegetables are great source of energy, vitamins, and mineral, and fiber.

Vegetables can add color to meals and snacks. Choose a variety of different colored vegetables since they each offer slightly different nutrient profiles.

Vegetables are rich in potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and folic acid. Potassium can help regulate blood pressure. Tomatoes, spinach, legumes, and lentils are a good source of potassium. Vitamin A helps keep eyes and skin healthy. Carrots, pumpkin, kale, spinach are all good sources of vitamin A. Vitamin C helps the body’s immune system and wound healing abilities. Red and yellow bell peppers, broccoli, and cabbage are great sources of vitamin C. Folic acid helps with blood cell development and can help prevent certain birth defects. Folic acid can be found in artichokes, okra, edamame, spinach, and Brussel sprouts.

Whole, cut, canned, pureed vegetables all provide soluble fiber. Strained vegetable juices however are not a source of fiber. Fiber can help to reduce cholesterol, create a feeling of fullness, and promote bowel regularity

To get the most nutrition for your dollar choose fresh vegetables that are in season. For example, corn in the fall, broccoli in winter, tomatoes in spring, and bell peppers in summer. Choose frozen or canned out of season vegetables, avoid any with added salt, sugar, or sauce. Season vegetables with fresh or dried herbs, salt-free season mixes, or oil/vinegar blends.

Grains

1 to 2 servings per meal, preferably whole grains

One serving of grains is 1 oz = ½ cup cooked rice/pasta, 1 slice of bread, 1 tortilla

Grains are any food made from wheat, cornmeal, barley, rice, oats, or other grains. Grains are generally divided into two groups: whole grain and refined. Whole grains contain the entire grain – bran, germ, and endosperm. Utilizing all three parts increases the amount of fiber, minerals, and vitamins available. Refined grains have been milled, which removes the bran and germ, leaving only the endosperm to create a softer texture. Many refined grains are “enriched”, this means some vitamins are added back after processing. Some examples of whole grains include whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, popcorn, brown rice. Some examples of refined grain include white flour, white bread, white rice.

All grains are an excellent source of energy for our body and brain. Whole grains have the added benefits of fiber, minerals like iron, and naturally occurring B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, and niacin). Fiber can help to reduce cholesterol, create a feeling of fullness, and promote bowel regularity. Iron is an important part of the production of red blood cells and can help prevent anemia. The B vitamins support metabolism and contribute to the body’s generation of energy.

To get the most nutrition for your dollar purchase bulk grains like brown rice, oats, quinoa, whole-wheat flour. Additionally, choose store brand whole-wheat breads and pastas.

Extra virgin olive oil & herbs

Olive oil servings vary but should be limited to no more than a total 5 teaspoonfuls per day

Herbs are used to season dishes as needed, there is no minimum or limits on herbs

Extra virgin olive oil is considered a “better for you” fat source since it is high in monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA) fats and low in saturated fats. Since olive oil is plant based it is naturally cholesterol-free. It is also a contains vitamin E, vitamin K, and antioxidants. Olive oil contains important essential fatty acids.

Vitamin E is important to vision, blood, brain, and skin. It also has antioxidant properties and may protect cell from free radical damage. Vitamin K help with the body’s ability to stop bleeding. Essential fatty acids are important for brain function and cell growth.

Always read the label when purchasing olive oil as this product has be associated with some counterfeiting. Check the ingredients, look for extra virgin olive oil as the only ingredient. Extra virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olives and it is naturally higher in nutrients than the oil obtained from the later pressing or the chemically separated oil. Check the country of origin. Greece, Italy, and Spain all produce flavorful high-quality olive oil. Check the use by date or harvest date on the label, use the oil by the use by date or within two years of the harvest date.

Herbs are a great way to season dishes without adding salt. You can add fresh herbs, dried herbs, or even ready to use salt-free herb blends to your favorite recipes. Many people enjoy growing their own favorite herbs in their garden or windowsill.

Seafood

2 or more servings each week

One serving of seafood = a 4oz filet or portion

This group includes all fish and shellfish. Seafood is a good source of lean protein and essential fatty acids, also known as EPA and DHA. Protein is an important building block for muscles, cartilage, skin, blood, as well as for hormones and enzymes. Essential fatty acids are important for brain function and cell growth.

Limit mercury intake by consuming a variety of seafood and choosing low mercury options like salmon, trout, herring, mackerel (not King Mackerel), sardines, and oysters more often.

Other animal proteins are part of the Mediterranean Diet, just with less frequency. Lean poultry is two servings a week, red meat less than two servings a week, and processed meats are limited to no more than one serving per week. An exception is eggs, which can be enjoyed two to four servings per week.

Dairy

Two servings each day, low fat preferred

One serving of dairy = 8oz of milk or yogurt, 1 ½ oz of natural cheese, or 2 oz of processed cheese

Dairy includes milk-based products which have retained their calcium during processing such as: milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, natural cheese, and even ice cream. Items like sour cream, butter, cream cheese are not included.

Dairy is a good source of calcium, potassium, protein, and many products also contain vitamins A & D. Calcium is used to build and maintain bones. Potassium can help regulate blood pressure. Protein is an important building block for muscles, cartilage, skin, blood, as well as for hormones, enzymes. They can also be used as an energy source. Vitamin D helps the body maintain bone health by helping to regulate the use of calcium and phosphorus by the body.

Store brands of milk, yogurt, and cheese can save money while providing the same nutrition benefits as brand name products.

Indulgences

Two servings, or less, a week

The Mediterranean diet even has some room for your favorite food indulgences. An indulgence is a food that does not contribute much nutritionally. These foods may lack vitamins, minerals, whole grains, and/or polyunsaturated “good” fats. Or they may be high in calories, sugar, saturated fats, and/or salt.

While indulgences do not add nutritional value to our diet, they are enjoyable to eat and may even mark a special event or celebration. Also, it can be hard to stick with an eating pattern that eliminates or severely restricts certain types of foods. However, it is important to keep portion size in mind when enjoying an indulgent food. A reasonable portion should provide several bites for you to savor and enjoy.

Plan ahead for your indulgences. You may want to enjoy a piece of cake at a friend’s birthday party, stop for ice cream with the kids, or have some chips and queso at happy hour instead of just grabbing a day-old donut from the break-room.

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