By Mrs. Qula Madkin, MSU Extension Service
Still looking for ways to improve your health in 2022? Well, adding more of the right kinds of food to your daily diet is one way to keep moving forward.
If you prefer to follow a plan, there are a few eating plans experts agree can help us live longer, healthier lives by helping prevent and manage common chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Mediterranean diet ranked first for the best overall diet for health and longevity. This eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, peas, nuts and seeds, fish and seafood, and olive oil.
If diet is a four-letter word to you, hold on. This “diet” is not restrictive in the traditional sense. Think of it as a customizable eating plan that focus on adding nutrient-rich foods instead of subtracting foods.
Rankings were selected by a panel of 25 experts who specialize in nutrition, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The panel was assembled by U.S. News & World Report, which releases a ranking of the best diets each year. Diets are ranked based on how safe and nutritionally sound the eating plan is, its ability to prevent and manage conditions like diabetes and heart disease, its effectiveness for weight management, and how easy the plan is to follow. The DASH diet and Flexitarian diet tied for second place.
So, how can we enjoy the benefits of the Mediterranean eating plan while incorporating our southern food and flavor?
Let’s start with some basics:
Eat beans and peas. Red beans, black-eyed peas, and one of my favorites, field peas are always available in the South. While different than some of the beans traditionally eaten in the Mediterranean eating plan, these beans and peas provide just as many health benefits and are budget friendly.
Eat more vegetables. Tomatoes, bell peppers, and leafy greens like collards and mustards are excellent options. And don’t forget about one of Mississippi’s most well-known vegetables, the sweet potato. Vegetables like these are bursting with flavor and nutrition.
Use spices in new ways. Add spices to salads and drizzle flavorful oils, like avocado or pumpkin seed oil, onto food to boost the flavor instead of using salt.
Remember, living healthier involves more than just your diet. It’s a lifestyle shift that includes proper sleep, plenty of movement, and much more. For more helpful tips about balanced eating plans and all things nutrition and wellness, visit extension.msstate.edu and join our MSU Nutrition and Wellness Facebook group.
Did You Know?
We tend to think of countries like Italy and France when we think of the Mediterranean diet, but other countries follow the Mediterranean diet principles also. Northern Africa has many countries along the Mediterranean Sea, including Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. The same goes for the Middle Eastern countries of Turkey, Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. They all follow the Mediterranean-style diet plan, but specific foods vary based on several factors, including culture, economy, and agricultural production.