Why: These tree-plucked fruits are high in heart-healthy monosaturated fats (they're also good for your skin and bones).
How to eat them: Add olives to salad or pizza or simply pop them in your mouth as a satisfying snack. Additionally, use olive oil instead of butter or margarine when cooking.
Mediterranean recipes: Olive oil desserts
Why: The Mediterranean diet is often very high in spinach, eggplant, tomatoes and green beans, all foods that are high in antioxidants and important vitamins and minerals.
How to eat them: Lightly steam or stir-fry veggies or toss them raw into a healthy salad. You can also grill or roast vegetables, or bake them into a warm casserole.
Mediterranean recipe: Eggplant Parmesan
Why: High in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, getting your daily dose of seafood (or shellfish) can increase the suppleness of your skin as well as protect your brain and heart from degenerative diseases.
How to eat it: Grill, roast or bake fresh fish, eating a tasty serving once or twice a week.
Mediterranean recipe: Salmon with Cilantro Pesto
Why: A good source of calcium, yogurt is eaten regularly by people living in the Mediterranean. Two to three servings per day will keep your bones strong and may stave off osteoporosis.
How to eat it: Eat yogurt with a bowl of fresh berries for breakfast. Use yogurt instead of sour cream to make dips and sauces.
Mediterranean recipe: Yogurt Honey Poppyseed Dressing
Why: A great source of protein, especially for vegetarians, a handful of nuts or seeds every day can help you get the healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals your body needs to function at its peak as well as to stave off dozens of degenerative diseases. Nuts and seeds also keep your energy levels up throughout the day.
How to eat them: Toss nuts and seeds into trail mix or a fresh vegetable salad. Crush and use to coat baked fish, poultry or lean meat.
Mediterranean recipes: Heart healthy walnut recipes
Why: Lean sources of protein, like eggs, chicken, veal and lamb, are staples in the Mediterranean diet. Eaten in moderation, they're also a rich source of protein and nutrients vital to muscle, joint and heart health.
How to eat them: Eat eggs in the morning or add them to a salad. Grill, saute, roast, bake or poach these healthy proteins. Avoid deep frying meats to reduce your intake of calories and unhealthy fat.
Mediterranean recipe: Veal Saltimbocca
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