The Mediterranean Diet is currently the most well-researched and scientifically-backed diets out there. It is a way of eating that reflects the traditional dietary habits of individuals in the countries that surround the Mediterranean – think Italy, Greece, France and Spain.
Research has found that the traditional Mediterranean styles of eating have remarkable health benefits such as a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, arthritis and osteoporosis; basically, a longer and healthier life.
Plant foods are the most predominant food type within the Mediterranean Diet. Emphasis is placed on regularly eating fruits, vegetables, extra virgin olive oil, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. Because of this, the Mediterranean Diet is typically abundant in micronutrients and fibre, as well as quality fat sources. Lean protein sources, particularly seafood, are also included regularly, as well as smaller amounts of poultry, eggs and dairy. Red meats are eaten less frequently, and again in small amounts.
For anyone trying to adopt or maintain a Mediterranean style diet, or simply a healthy and balanced diet, snacks can be a fantastic nutritional tool. Snacks provide an opportunity to increase the variety of foods consumed throughout the day and across the week. They can therefore provide us with additional vitamins and minerals which are important for every aspect of our health. Mediterranean style snacks are also generally a good source of fibre and protein, and can therefore help us to manage our appetite and energy levels throughout the day. Snacks are also important for anyone engaging in strenuous exercise. Proper snack timing can significantly impact the quality of your session, as well as supporting muscle recovery and muscle synthesis afterwards.
Here are some of our favourite dietitian-approved snack foods for a Mediterranean style diet:
- Fruit: For a snack, try having 1 medium sized piece of fruit such as a banana or apple, or 2 smaller pieces such as apricots or kiwi fruit. This is a snack that is loaded with fibre, antioxidants and micronutrients.
- Veggies: Of course! Not only are they versatile, they’re incredibly nutritious. They’re also low in calories. Some quick and easy options include carrot sticks, cucumber slices, capsicum, snow peas, green beans and cherry tomatoes. Try pair with some hummus.
- Natural yoghurt: Opt for natural or Greek style yoghurts that contain little or no added sugars. Not only is this a great snack post-workout for a dose of protein, natural yoghurts also contain probiotics, which can promote a healthy gut.
- Cheese: Quality cheeses are another protein rich snack that will keep you feeling satisfied throughout the day, as well as providing a hit of calcium for bone health. 20-40g is a good snack sized portion.
- Nuts: Nuts are a source of healthy fats, protein and fibre. Aim for around 20-30g. Keep a stash in your work bag or even in your car.
- Muesli bars: The key is to choose a brand with less than 10g of sugar per 100g, 3g of fibre per serve, less than 10g of fat per 100g, and 400-600kj per serve. There are some great options on the supermarket shelves these days packed with oats, nuts and seeds.
Here are some ideas on how you could put together a nutritious, Mediterranean style snack:
- A piece of fruit with a small handful of mixed nuts/seeds.
- Greek yoghurt with a sprinkle of chia seeds and berries.
- Celery sticks with cottage cheese or ricotta.
- Carrot and cucumber sticks with hummus or tzatziki.
- Sliced cheese with tomato and basil.
- A snack sized tin of baked beans. Better yet, a snack sized tin of 4 bean mix drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, lemon and chopped herbs.
- Roasted chickpeas.
- 1 cup of leftover homemade soup.
- A small tin of salmon or tuna with diced capsicum and red onion.
- A small tin of sardines on multigrain, rye, or sourdough toast.
- Air popped popcorn.
- Apple slices with almond or peanut butter.
- Brown rice cakes topped with smoked salmon and avocado slices.
- 2 boiled eggs, halved and sprinkled with dill or paprika.
What are your favourite healthy snacks? Reach out and let us know, we’d love to hear!