Welcome to May and Mediterranean Food Month! The Mediterranean diet offers a delicious and healthful approach to eating, rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and olive oil. The Mediterranean diet is particularly beneficial for senior citizens. Its emphasis on nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can support overall health and well-being in older adults. Additionally, the diet’s focus on healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil and fatty fish, may help maintain cognitive function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline associated with aging. The Mediterranean diet’s potential to lower the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, makes it a great choice for promoting longevity and quality of life in seniors.

Here are a few steps to ease into a Mediterranean style of eating:

1. Eat lots of vegetables. From a simple plate of sliced fresh tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and crumbled feta cheese to stunning salads, garlicky greens, fragrant soups and stews, healthy pizzas, or oven-roasted medleys, vegetables are vitally important to the fresh tastes and delicious flavors of the Med Diet.

2. Change the way you think about meat. If you eat meat, have smaller amounts – small strips of sirloin in a vegetable sauté, or a dish of pasta garnished with diced prosciutto.

3. Enjoy some dairy products. Eat Greek or plain yogurt, and try smaller amounts of a variety of cheeses.

4. Eat seafood twice a week. Fish such as tuna, herring, salmon, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and shellfish including mussels, oysters, and clams have similar benefits for brain and heart health.

5. Cook a vegetarian meal one night a week. Build meals around beans, whole grains, and vegetables, and heighten the flavor with fragrant herbs and spices. Down the road, try two nights per week.

6. Use good fats. Include sources of healthy fats in daily meals, especially extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, olives, and avocados.

7. Switch to whole grains. Whole grains are naturally rich in many important nutrients; their fuller, nuttier taste and extra fiber keep you satisfied for hours. Cook traditional Mediterranean grains like bulgur, barley, farro and brown, black or red rice, and favor products made with whole grain flour.

8. For dessert, eat fresh fruit. Choose from a wide range of delicious fresh fruits — from fresh figs and oranges to pomegranates, grapes and apples. Instead of daily ice cream or cookies, save sweets for a special treat or celebration.

Bon Appetite! –Becky

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