You may have recently heard about the green Mediterranean diet. Newly published research indicated that this version of Southern Europe’s long-lauded lifestyle is even healthier than the original.
Considering that the Mediterranean diet has been frequently called one of the best, how is the green med diet better? The original focus on eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains remains. So, what has changed in this new green version, and what are the benefits?
Want to learn all about the green Mediterranean diet and how to implement it?
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What Is The Green Mediterranean Diet?
First things first, just what is the green Mediterranean diet? It is very similar to the original. The significant change is that this new version eliminates the small allowance for red meat. In its place are plant-based proteins. The green in the title comes from the plants’ natural hues.
Some plant-based proteins included in the plan are edamame, soy, nuts, seeds, and beans. It’s also worth noting that vegetables also have protein. Broccoli contains more protein per calorie than steak!
How Is The Green Mediterranean Diet Different Than The Regular Mediterranean Diet?
The two versions are very similar. The new green version eliminates the red meat allowance and replaces it with plant-based proteins. It’s not a significant change because red meat was not a massive portion of the food pyramid. Typically it was suggested you eat it no more than twice a month.
Instead of the proteins, the guidelines suggest you eat more plant-based ones, including quinoa, tofu, soy, edamame, tempeh, seitan, and lentils, just to name a few.
Both still follow the same guidelines and address eating holistically. It’s not just about eating healthy foods. It is about exercising and enjoying meals with family and friends.
Guidelines Of The Green Mediterranean Diet
- Eat primarily plant-based food (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes).
- Healthy fats are good.
- Eat fish 2-3 times a week.
- Limit processed foods.
- Limit your intake of sweets.
- Meals are to be eaten with family and friends and enjoyed.
- Physical activity is to be plentiful.
Benefits Of The Green Mediterranean Diet
Voted the number one diet for Overall Health several years in a row by U.S. News and World Report, the Mediterranean Diet is not so much a dietary regime as it is a broad outline of eating. Countless studies have touted its benefits. It’s known to increase good cholesterol, decrease bad cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lower triglycerides.
According to Harvard Medical School, “past research has shown that this type of eating pattern can help lower cholesterol, help with weight loss, improve rheumatoid arthritis, and reduce the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and various types of cancer.”
According to this recent study, the new version had a more significant positive effect than the original. The research concluded that “the green MED diet, supplemented with walnuts, green tea, and Mankai and lower in meat/poultry, may amplify the beneficial cardiometabolic effects of Mediterranean diet.”
It was a study with few participants, but the results were encouraging.
After six months of being on the green Mediterranean diet, the participants had better results on several clinical tests to measure health and had a lower Framingham Risk Score. This test estimates an individual’s cardiovascular risk. Note that men benefitted from the diet more than women in the study.
What Foods Are Included In The Green Mediterranean Diet?
This list is not exhaustive, but you can get a general sense of what’s included within the green med diet guidelines.
Green Mediterranean Diet Food List
- Olive oil
- Whole grains
- Adzuki beans
- Black beans
- Anasazi beans
- Fava beans
- Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- Kidney beans
- Lima beans
- Green peas
- Snow peas
- Snap peas
- Split peas
- Black-eyed peas
- Roasted Soybeans
- Brown rice
- Bulgur (cracked wheat)
- Whole-wheat bread, pasta, or crackers
Foods Suggested In Moderation in The Green Med Diet
- Red Wine
- Low-fat dairy
Foods To Avoid On The Green Med Diet
- Highly processed foods
- Red Meat
Green Mediterranean Diet Four-Day Meal Plan
If you want to try it out for yourself, here is a sample green Mediterranean diet meal plan. I found breakfast to be the toughest to plan. You can only eat so many omelets, which aren’t feasible during the week!
Breakfast – Overnight Oats
Lunch – Turkey and Hummus on Whole Wheat Bread
Dinner – Baked Cod with Quinoa and spinach sauteed in olive oil
Snacks – Fruit
Breakfast – Greek Yogurt with Granola and Berries
Lunch – Chickpea and Tuna Salad
Dinner – Spicy Lentil Spinach Soup
Snacks – Carrots and celery with hummus
Breakfast – Overnight Oats
Lunch – Spicy Lentil Spinach Soup (leftover)
Dinner – Cauliflower Shwarma Bowls
Snacks – Nuts
Breakfast – Mediterranean Omelet
Lunch – Greek Salad
Dinner – Greek Marinated Chicken Drumsticks with rice and broccoli
Snacks – Roasted chickpeas from dinner
Green Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan Printable
Click the image below to download the printable PDF green Mediterranean diet meal plan.
Green Mediterranean Diet Recipes
Green Mediterranean Diet Breakfasts
Make a large batch of overnight oats, and you can eat them for several days. Cookie and Kate have a great post about making a large batch.
This Mediterranean Omelet from Bakers Royale comes together in a snap and tastes delicious!
Need more green Mediterranean diet breakfasts? We’ve got 20+ options sure to please.
Cooking Classy’s Greek Salad is simple and yummy!
Turkey sandwich with hummus and sprouts
This Tuna Salad from Skinny Taste comes together in minutes and is very flavorful! It’s excellent with whole-grain crackers.
You can also make Hummus with edamame. Try this recipe for Eating Well’s Edamame Hummus Wrap.
Quinoa is a protein-packed grain. Check out Wendy Polisi’s Mediterranean Quinoa Salad.
Cauliflower is so hearty that you won’t miss the meat in this Shawarma Bowl from Our Salty Kitchen.
This Baked Cod from The Mediterranean Dish is a great weeknight dish!
While you are over there, her Mediterranean Spicy Lentil Soup is worth checking out.
These Greek Marinated Chicken Drumsticks from Budget Bytes are a family favorite if you need a kid-friendly dinner.
What Do You Think?
Are you going to try the Green Mediterranean Diet? What are your thoughts? If you have any favorite recipes using plant-based proteins, please share them below. I would love to check them out.
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