If you are jetting off to warmer climes of the Mediterranean this summer, eating like the locals could mean you come back from holiday healthier and happier than when you left.

Research shows that that eating a varied, plant-based diet packed with fruit, vegetables, pulses, herbs, spices, nuts and seeds, with fish a few times a week, a bit of lean poultry and plenty of good quality olive can have a positive impact on our mental and physical health.

The Mediterranean diet has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease and stroke for many years, but did you know that it has also been shown to help with weight management, balanced blood sugar levels, reduced risk of depression, reduced cancer risk and defence against asthma.

The plethora of health benefits have been attributed to the combination of fibre, antioxidants, polyphenols and good fats that this diet has in abundance.

So here are Vital Nutrition’s ideas for giving your diet a little flavour of the Med:

  • Use olive oil for dressings, dips and drizzles, choose cold pressed, organic, virgin olive oil if you can.
  • Spice it up – think garlic, basil, rosemary, thyme, paprika, turmeric and get herbs and spices into all your meals. These pungent plants have powerful health benefits.
  • Eat at least 6 portions of fruit and veg every day. The average Greek resident eats at least 6 a day, so follow by example and start early in the day with tomatoes or fruit at breakfast, salads , so enjoy a for lunch and veg based dishes as part of your man meal.
  • Love your legumes – peas, beans and lentils are an important part of the Meditteranean diet. Tuscan bean salad or houmous are a healthy base for any lunchtime.
  • Go nuts – nuts and seeds make an ideal snack to keep you going.
  • Eat less red meat, have fish at least 2 or 3 times a week and eat a little good quality poultry.
  • And of course, probably what many folk think of when they envisage the French, Italian or Spanish diet is a glass of claret, merlot or Rioja…so enjoy a glass of red wine in moderation, as part of your healthy Mediterranean diet.

Its not just what they eat, but how they eat in the Med. Food is given high priority, mealtimes are savoured and good food is shared with friends and enjoyed in moderation.