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Mediterranean diet rightfully earning accolades

By GWEN JOHNSON - Sage Nutrition Tips | Jul 22, 2023

Dietitians are often asked – “What is the best diet to follow?”

With this in mind I thought it is important for my first Sage Nutrition Tips series to highlight a diet that has been voted the Best Diet of 2023. The Mediterranean diet in fact has been voted The Best Diet by the U.S. News & World Report for the past six consecutive years. It’s not a diet per se but more of an eating pattern which has been associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, dementia and cancers.

It’s also not a new diet as it has been a traditional way of eating for centuries in the 21 countries that border the Mediterranean Sea including Greece, Italy, Monaco, Croatia, Turkey and Lebanon.

A Mediterranean-style eating pattern, focuses on primarily eating plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.

It encourages eating fish, specifically fatty-type fish like salmon, mackerel or tuna at least a couple of times a week.

Lean poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt are consumed in moderation while sweets and red meats are limited to special occasions. “Healthy fats”, such as olive or avocado oil are used over butter due to their higher content of omega-3 fatty acids.

Recently I made this easy high fiber, delicious side dish which boasts many ingredients that mimic the Mediterranean Diet eating pattern including olives, olive oil, fresh vegetables and whole grains. It makes the perfect summer side dish for any BBQ. Enjoy this salad along with some grilled salmon or chicken for a satisfying, balanced meal.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad


1 1/2 cups dry whole wheat orzo

1 medium cucumber or 2 small pickling cucumbers, diced

1 Roma tomato, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1 cup Kalamata olives

1-14 oz jar roasted red peppers, chopped

1-14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 cup crumbled feta

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

1 TBSP. dried oregano

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste


Cook the orzo according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool. Add cooled orzo to all chopped veggies, canned/jarred items and feta and mix well. Add lemon juice, oil, dried oregano and salt and pepper to taste.

Stir to combine.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving for all the flavors to come together.

Need to make it gluten free?- Use bean-based pasta in place of the whole wheat orzo like chickpea or red lentil pasta.

Gwen Johnson, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian and Owner of Sage Nutrition Solutions, a private nutrition counseling practice located in Pepperell, MA that serves clients in North Middlesex County in Massachusetts and Hillsborough County in Southern New Hampshire. For more information visit her website at https://www.sagenutritionsolutions.com.


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