Should You Highlight The Mediterranean Diet?

It’s the beginning of the year, and that means the beginning of new diets and exercise plans for everybody. By late February, many people who may have started the year with good intentions have fallen off their plans. One diet that would be easy to handle, as it allows a variety of tasty foods, is the Mediterranean diet that’s been surging in popularity in recent years.

Nation’s Restaurant News reports on the diet, pointing out that it’s less of a specific diet and more of an eating focus “with an emphasis on healthful high antioxidant-, fiber-rich ingredients such as fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, and healthier fats derived from olive oil, nuts, and seafood.” Both the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association have highlighted the diet as ways to manage health for years, with it encouraging a variety of foods.

The diet doesn’t prohibit meat and meat products, but just minimizes them, especially in comparison to fish. Olive oil, fruits, and veggies are generally considered tasty components of meals that most consumers enjoy. The concept comes from the traditional diets of those in Greece, Spain, and Southern Italy. It features a significant amount of monounsaturated fats, which have been suggested to lead to a reduction of coronary heart disease risk, improve cholesterol regulation, LDL cholesterol reduction, and features other anti-hypertensive and inflammatory effects.

Naturally, these health benefits are ideal for many, focusing on not just losing weight and gaining more energy, but towards adjusting many ailments. The addition of red wine to the diet adds antixodants with their inclusion of flavonoids.

NRN’s suggestions on how restaurants can include this diet include

Enhance the natural flavor of dishes through herbs and spices rather than salt. Basil, cilantro, ginger and saffron are just a few accents that can complement any sauce, dressing, marinade, soup or entrée.

Boost the use of fruits and vegetables. Bring color and variety to salads and seafood dishes with fresh, seasonal fruits, and add hearty vegetables to chili, soups and noodle dishes.

Provide alternative sources of protein. Use proteins such as omega-3 rich salmon, tuna or shrimp, or make substitutions available in place of traditional meats in entrées and salads.

Use extra-virgin olive oil in place of butter and highly saturated dressings.Use it to flavor salads and drizzle over vegetables and pastas. It can also be used in low-heat food preparation.

Add texture with fiber-rich foods. Infuse texture into dishes by adding fiber-rich beans and legumes into salads and side dishes, and nuts and seeds as toppings.

Replace refined grain breads and noodles with whole grains. Use brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta and wild rice in place of refined grains wherever possible.

Naturally, a new focus on wine in your restaurant could also find its way into the diets of your customers. Many of the items on your menu might fit with these suggestions, so it shouldn’t take too much to adjust your menu to highlight the diet.