Dairy-Free Mediterranean Diet Options

The Mediterranean meal pattern has long been associated with improving cardiovascular risk factors, but recent research suggests it may also be beneficial to your mood and provide some protection against depression. This column explores which heart healthy oils to include in your diet, non-dairy options and easy swaps you can make at each meal to create a Mediterranean meal pattern.

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Which heart healthy oil is the best to include in my diet?

Heart healthy oils like canola, olive and avocado oil all contain different profiles of the “good” monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. The smoke point also differs for each oil, which means some oils are better for lower versus higher temperature cooking. I typically recommend that my clients keep at least two to three different types of heart healthy oil for different culinary purposes. Keep avocado, canola, sesame and/or sunflower oil for higher temperature cooking and use olive oil for lower temperature cooking. Don’t forget to monitor the amount of oil used because the calories for oil can add up quickly.

Type of Oil

There are so many choices for non-dairy milk options. What should I look for when making a choice in the grocery store?

Taste preference might be the leading factor in determining which non-dairy option you select, but keep in mind that the nutrient profile does vary. I often recommend comparing the protein as well as the percentage daily value of calcium that the product provides along with the calories and carbohydrates to make the best selection. Oftentimes, individuals using non-dairy milk options might need to consider keeping more than one type to best suit their nutrition and culinary needs.

Non-Dairy Milk Type

How should I switch my food choices when I’m following a Mediterranean-style meal plan?

Mediterranean Food Swaps

Want to learn more about adopting the Mediterranean diet? Read “Five Reasons to Try the Mediterranean Diet” and “Mediterranean Madness: FAQs About a Centuries-Old ‘Diet.'”

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