The Mediterranean Diet & Avocados
The Mediterranean Diet is a way of eating based on the traditional foods (and drinks) of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. According to the Mediterranean Foods Alliance, the Mediterranean Diet is not a diet, as in “go on a diet,” even though it may be a great way to lose weight or improve your health. Rather, it is a lifestyle – including foods, activities, meals with friends and family, and wine in moderation with meals. Staples of the Mediterranean Diet include fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes; an abundance of bread, pasta, rice, couscous and other grain foods, especially whole grains; nuts and peanuts; extra virgin olive oil; fish, poultry and lean red meat; cheese and yogurt; and moderate amounts of wine.
As a nutrient-dense fruit providing “good” polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, California Avocados are a natural fit with the Mediterranean Diet and are included in the Mediterranean Foods Alliance Med Mark program, an educational program created to help individuals discover Mediterranean style-food and flavors including:
- Fresh fruits: California Avocados are a nutrient-dense fruit that help add variety to fruit intake - a trademark of the Mediterranean Diet – and can easily be incorporated into any meal of the day.
- Good Fats: California Avocados can help improve “good fat” intake, emphasized in the Mediterranean Diet. Seventy-five percent of the fat in a California Avocado is heart-healthy unsaturated fat (6 grams per 50 gram serving), making it a great substitute for foods high in saturated fat. Consuming less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat and replacing them with monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fatty acids is associated with low blood cholesterol levels and therefore a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Resources from the Mediterranean Foods Alliance Med Mark program
To help people everywhere understand the Mediterranean Diet, Oldways, the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization developed the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. For more information about Oldways, visit www.oldwayspt.org.
The Mediterranean Foods Alliance presents one dozen ways to enjoy avocados.
Mediterranean Diet Research News
A prospective cohort study found that eating a Mediterranean-style diet was associated with a lower white matter hyperintensity volume, a marker of small vessel damage in the brain that can predict an increased risk of stroke and dementia (when a heavy burden is present). The researchers speculated that the most important component of the Mediterranean-style diet in predicting white matter hyperintensity volume may be the ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fats.
Gardener H, et al. Mediterranean diet and white matter hyperintensity volume in the Northern Manhattan Study. Arch Neurol. 2012. 69 (2):251 – 256.
Mediterranean Diet Recipes with California Avocados
Try these delicious recipes recognized by the Mediterranean Foods Alliance and approved to carry the Med Diet logo featuring California Avocados
Guacamole Potato Salad
Create a new picnic and party tradition with this delicious Guacamole Potato Salad made with red potatoes and Fresh California Avocados. With only six ingredients it is surprisingly simple to make and taste good with the added bonus of providing an excellent source of vitamin C (43% of the Daily Value), potassium (20% DV) and a good source of dietary fiber (18% DV) vitamin B6 (16% DV), vitamin K (14% DV) and folate (14% DV) while being a low sodium dish (less than 140 mg per serving).
California Avocado Toast with Heirloom Tomatoes
Mashed or sliced California Avocados on toast are easy and delicious for breakfast or for a snack, and can be added in many different ways for a craveable taste sensation. Taking less than 10 minutes from start to finish, this tasty treat is sure to be a breakfast favorite. As an added bonus you get a lutein boost from the avocado and tomato, plus an excellent source of folate (26% of Daily Value), vitamins C (24% DV) and K (24% DV) and a good source of calcium (19%), and potassium (14% DV).
California Avocado Toast with Fried Egg
Fried egg lovers, get ready. The creamy richness of the avocado with the fried egg is going to send your taste buds into overtime, but the goodness does not stop there. Tasty and nutritious with an excellent source of folate (29% of Daily Value), B2/riboflavin (27% DV), dietary fiber (24% DV), calcium (21% DV) and vitamin K (20% DV) along with a good source of vitamins B5 (19% DV) and B6 (15% DV), C (13% DV) potassium (13% DV) and iron (10% DV).
Killarney Avocado Slaw
This refreshing coleslaw uses creamy California Avocado and nonfat yogurt as the dressing base for a delicious slaw that is naturally low in sodium (less than 140mg per serving) and is an excellent source of vitamins C (42% DV), K (29% DV) and A (25% DV) , as well as a good source of dietary fiber (10% DV) .
All foods and drinks included in the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid – with the exception of those in the top section – are eligible to display a Mediterranean packaging symbol as long as they are sold in their minimally-processed state, and are consistent with their traditional form. Every product or recipe that bears the Med Mark meets specific nutrition criteria.
For more information, visit oldwayspt.org and oldwayspt.org/programs/mediterranean-foods-alliance
If you’re looking for a way to enjoy great-tasting food that’s also good for you, consider the Mediterranean Diet. Research shows that individuals who follow a Mediterranean-style eating pattern have reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and much more.
The diet is based on the traditional foods and lifestyle enjoyed by individuals living in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, including Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey. That means plenty of fresh and wholesome fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Compared to a typical diet in the United States, the Mediterranean-style includes less sweets and added sugars, full-fat dairy products and red meat.
Key Guidelines of the Mediterranean Diet
- Three or more servings of whole grain daily
- At least seven servings fruits and veggies everyday
- Two or more servings of fish per week
- Use extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, olives, and avocados as your main sources of fat
- Get daily physical activity
Putting Mediterranean Diet Principles Into Practice. Here are five ways to make your diet more Mediterranean-Style:
- Make fruits and veggies your foundation
Try recipes that call for lots of veggies and enjoy fresh salads frequently for (or as part of) your main meals. Also, adding California avocado slices to your salads in place of full-fat cheese is a great way to infuse more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to your diet while reducing saturated fat. For desserts, enjoy naturally sweet desserts made with fresh or dried fruit
- Switch to whole grains
Choose whole-grain bread and cereals and begin to eat more whole-grain rice and pasta products
- Snack on nuts
Keep nuts on hand for a quick snack in place of soda, sweets or other popular snack choices
- Cook with olive or canola oil
Use olive or canola oil as a healthy replacement for butter or margarine. Use it in cooking and baking
- Enjoy fish, poultry and other lean protein
Enjoy fish and poultry more frequently as main dishes to help reduce saturated fat. When eating dairy, choose low-fat or nonfat