The webpage “7 Simple Steps to Eating The Med Way” reflects a way of eating that is traditional in the countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea and includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, seeds and olive oil, and limits highly- processed foods and added sugar. The Mediterranean diet has been extensively studied and is associated with promoting health and decreasing the risk of many chronic diseases including some forms of cancer, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. As such, the Mediterranean way of eating is recommended around the world, including in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

These simple steps will help you eat the Med Way every day.

Change proteins

Replace some of the meat in your diet with plant proteins such as beans, nuts and seeds often. Eat fish and seafood at least two to three times per week. Include fatty fish, such as mackerel or salmon, at least once a week. Eat fried fish only occasionally. Choose white-meat poultry such as turkey or chicken breast. Limit red meat and/or choose lean red meat. Greatly limit or eliminate processed meats.

Swap your fats

Choose olive oil. Replace solid fats such as butter or margarine with olive oil or canola oil.

Use olive oil for cooking, and in dressings and marinades. Aim to consume at least four tablespoons of olive oil per day, while keeping within your calorie budget.

Eat more vegetables

Get at least three servings (three cups) of vegetables per day. Choose a variety of colors.

Eat more dark green leafy vegetables such as collards, kale, spinach, chard and turnip greens.

Eat more fruit

Get at least two servings (two cups) of fruits per day. Choose a variety of colors.

Include berries often.

Snack on nuts and seeds

Choose at least three ounces (three small handfuls) of nuts and seeds per week, keeping within your calorie budget. Avoid candied, honey-roasted and heavily-salted nuts and seeds.

Make your grains whole

Eat grains as grains. Choose whole grains such as oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice and popcorn. Look for “whole” in the first ingredient on the ingredient list (e.g., “whole wheat”) when choosing bread, pasta and other grain-based foods.

Rethink your sweets

Limit your sugar intake. Choose no more than three servings per week of high-sugar foods and drinks such as sugar-sweetened snacks, candies, desserts or beverages.

Courtesy N.C. State University and Cooperative Extension (

Kerri Rayburn is administrative assistant, N.C. Cooperative Extension, Jackson County Center. Call her at 586-4009.