Healthy Eating

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Healthy High-Fat Mediterranean Diet & Grocery List

With the popularization of "low-fat" and "non-fat" diets, it is not surprising that individuals fear fat. Though low-fat diets are embraced by several health-conscious individuals, a new study might shake up future grocery store lists to include foods from a high-fat Mediterranean Diet!


It's not uncommon for individuals to fear fat. Could it be based on fat's association with elevated lipid levels and heart disease? Or fearing fat in the fear of gaining weight? Though low-fat diets are embraced by several health-conscious individuals, a new study might shake up future grocery store lists!

What Is a High-Fat Mediterranean Diet?

Before jumping into the research, it is notable to recognize what the Mediterranean diet actually comprises of. A Mediterranean diet emphasizes whole, plant-based foods - whole grains, fresh produce, legumes, seeds and nuts, and healthy oils (primarily olive and canola oils). Although primarily a plant-based diet, it also urges the consumption of fish and poultry at least twice a week. Dairy products and eggs are recommended in moderate amounts with a low consumption of red meats. Wine lovers are especially fond of the Mediterranean diet, as it includes red wine (in moderation, of course). Additionally, it limits salt by using fresh herbs and spices to flavor dishes.

To further expand on the concept of Mediterranean diet, it essentially offers high amounts of "healthy" fats - offered by avocados, nuts and seeds, olive and canola oil, and fatty fish. These products generally consist of unsaturated fatty acids, further divided into monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). PUFAs also can be further broken down into omega-3s and omega-6s.

The Proven Benefits

Research recommending the Mediterranean diet is not a new approach in optimizing health - it has been promoted for heart and bone health for years now. However, a new study posted in the Annals of Internal Medicine confirms such suggestions. Furthermore, the paper noticed a common trend: a lot of fat. Researchers described the Mediterranean diet as an unrestricted fat diet that included at least two of the Mediterranean components suggested above, including high vegetable and fruit intake and moderate wine consumption.

The catch? The fat consumed was generally from MUFAs and PUFAs, rather than saturated and trans fat foods commonly found in most processed foods. Running along with claims from the American Medical Association, a diet that swaps saturated and trans fat products with these healthy fats may result to years added onto life. Researchers further suggest weight loss may also be achieved along with reduced risks of type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Though the mechanism is not well understood, experts tend to agree that when comparing fat-restricted and fat-laden diets, individuals restricting fat intake are more than likely consuming innutritious, empty calories from sugar and unrefined grains. Compared to refined products, fats and whole foods not only promote satiety, but offer essential nutrients the body utilizes for life-sustaining processes.

Mediterranean Grocery List

Packed with flavor and nutrients, it is easy to understand why the Mediterranean diet has much attention. If intrigued with the Mediterranean diet and new study, below is a basic guide and list for your next grocery store visit!

Whole Grains
Avoid refined and processed grains and aim for unrefined, whole grains - whole wheat pasta and bread, barley, oat, quinoa, and couscous.

Choose colorful, non-starchy vegetables over starchy veggies - broccoli, eggplant, bell peppers (all color varieties), cabbage, onions, and all leafy greens.

Pomegranates, grapes, tomatoes, mandarins, figs, avocados, olives, and berries are just a few excellent examples.

Swap out butter with olive or canola oil, as they loaded with healthy, monounsaturated fat. Fish. Salmon, tuna, halibut, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Shellfish, such as shrimp, are further suppliers of healthy fats.

As mentioned, poultry is recommended in moderate amounts. Choose white meats (such as chicken and turkey) and skip out on fried products, unless seared in olive or canola oils.

Seeds and Nuts
Hazelnuts, flaxseeds, and almonds are just a few examples to top onto meals or simply enjoy on their own.

Red Wine
If desiring red wine, it is recommended to do so in moderation. Wine servings include two glasses for men and one for women. It is also important to remember a glass is about 5 ounces, not the entire bottle.

Bloomfield HE, Koeller E, Greer N, et al. Effects on Health Outcomes of a Mediterranean Diet with No Restriction on Fat Intake: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. [Epub ahead of print 19 July 2016] doi:10.7326/M16-0361

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on August 18, 2016. Updated on September 21, 2019.


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