The Mediterranean Diet like the typical “health” pyramid

Level One: Complex carbohydrates in the form of brown rice, whole-grain rice, whole-grain pasta, and whole-grain bread (the fresher the better). Other possible options include cracked whole wheat (bulgur wheat), couscous, course cornmeal (polenta), and potatoes.

Level Two: Fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and other legumes. Salads are made of dark leafy lettuce, fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, peppers, onions, and cucumbers. The vegetables are often mixed with pasta or rice, used in salads, served as appetizers, or offered as a main or side dish. Fruits are at this level, but are usually a dessert or snack. Nuts are toppings to add flavor and texture. The beans and legumes are usually in soups, added to salads, used in dips (i.e.,hummus) or as a main dish.

Level Three: Olive oil, used instead of other oils, butter , margarine, etc. Not only for cooking, it is commonly mixed with balsamic vinegar as a salad dressing.

Level Four: Cheese and yogurt, in small amounts. Freshly grated Parmesan on pasta or little feta cheese on a salad is common. Yogurt (about a cup a day) is how milk is usually eaten, and it is low fat or nonfat, usually served with fresh fruit added. Yogurt is also a salad dressing (i.e.,mixed with dill,garlic, onion, and cucumbers).

Level Five: Fish, eaten more than other meats, in about 4-ounce portions several times a week.

Level Six: Chicken, turkey, and eggs. Chicken in 3 to 6-once portions a few times a week is common. The meat is usually skinless and added to soups, stews, and other dishes loaded with vegetable. Only 1 to 4 eggs per week.

Level Seven: Red meat, in the form of beef, veal, pork, sheep, lamb, and goats, is eaten only few times a month. It is then often served as a topping to a vegetable, pasta, or rice dish.

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