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Why Mediterranean-based eating is trendy…again


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Photo: Stocksy/Nadine Greeff
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In the wellness world, the Mediterranean diet is as acclaimed as it gets, with research touting its cardiovascular and longevity-boosting benefits. The diet’s bursting with omega-3s and healthy fats (from fish, eggs, nuts, and olive oil), probiotics (hello, Greek yogurt), and lots of grains, legumes, fruits, and veggies.

But in recent years, the Mediterranean way of eating has been eclipsed by sexier nutrition trends, like the gluten-free craze and countless buzzy celebrity diets (hello, Adele). But the pendulum is swinging back to the sun-dappled side.

“It pulls a lot of people in because there aren’t many parts of the diet that people are going to object to.”

Why? Partly it’s because so many people are quitting sugar and getting wise to the idea that unsaturated fats are a very a good thing, explains Lauren Slayton, MS, RD. Not to mention the fact that the eating regimen is so full of flavor—it’s always going to find new fans. “It pulls a lot of people in because there aren’t many parts of the diet that people are going to object to,” Slayton says.

But the biggest proof that what’s old is new again just might be supermarket shelves. Beyond the piles of tomatoes and peppers in the produce aisle are an influx of products elevating some of the diet’s core foods (think olives, fennel, and the aforementioned yogurt).

Scroll down for 6 new Mediterranean-inspired supermarket finds worth checking out.

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Gaea Fresh olive oil
Photo: Gaea Fresh

Gaea Fresh Olive Oil

The number-one item that must (must!) be in every Mediterranean-inspired pantry? Olive oil, obviously. “It has tremendous cardiovascular benefits and also helps with digestion,” Slayton says. It does have a low smoke point, so you don’t want to cook it at super-high heats, but it’s perfect for, say, drizzling on salads—and the more flavorful it is, the less you have to use. Inside each Gaea bottle is the juice from about 2,300 olives, all of which have been harvested by hand—which makes this fresh-pressed, extra virgin variety extra tasty. 

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Steep Echo
Photo: Steep Echo

Steep Echo Olive Leaf Tea 

Olive trees have been beloved for centuries for their medicinal benefits, and these teas tap into that time-honored tradition. “The leaves have the compound oleuropein—it’s also in the olives themselves—which wards off infection,” says Steep Echo founder Kimberly Branum. “They have double the antioxidants as green tea, and also a good dose of vitamin C.” Plus, the tea incorporates spices like rosemary (which has been linked to circulatory and nervous system benefits), making it a true Mediterranean powerhouse. 

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Artichoke Water
Photo: A+

A+ Artichoke Water

Artichokes, a Mediterranean diet staple, are awesome sources of the antioxidants silymarin and cynarin, which are said to fight free radicals, aid in detoxification, and improve cardiovascular health. (If you haven’t caught on yet, the Med diet always comes back to the heart.) The idea of gulping this new drink down may not sound all that appealing, but it’s surprisingly light and sweet—and way easier than wrangling the real thing.

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salsa
Photo: Chobani

Chobani Mezé Dip

Most people get their fix of Greek yogurt in the morning, maybe with a little healthy granola and a few berries sprinkled on top. But Chobani found a savory way (with just one gram of sugar per serving) for people to get their daily probiotics in, with a line of spicy Mezé Dips released earlier this year. The flavors all contain live bacteria strains, the details of which are listed right on the label next to the other all-natural ingredients—yummy and transparent.

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Photo: Stocksy/Nadine Greeff

NutraT

This new-to-the-market line of water-soluble powder formulas (from Israeli supplement maker Frutarom Health) was specifically created to tap into the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, incorporating ingredients like olives, antioxidant-rich artichokes, and lemon balm (which is said to be calming and helps with digestion).

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simply gum
Photo: Simply Gum

Simply Gum Fennel Licorice Chewing Gum

Yep, you can even get your Mediterranean fix between meals with this gum made with fennel and fennel oil. Sure, the nutritional value isn’t going to be as high as chowing down on fennel directly, but it’s still got vitamin C—making it a way-healthier breath freshener than a stick of Extra.

Beyond the Mediterranean diet, nutritionists wish everyone ate more of these 10 foods. And have you studied up on the new fruit pyramid? It’s key for cutting back on sugar.