Q: Can I have milk, cheese, ice cream or other dairy products if I’m following the Mediterranean diet?
A: The Mediterranean diet is an evidence-backed diet that almost anyone can follow to improve their health. It emphasizes fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. It does include meat and dairy, but in smaller amounts than the standard American diet.
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When it comes to dairy, a traditional Mediterranean diet might include a few servings a week of cheese or yogurt. Opt for less processed dairy products – think flavorful cheeses like Parmesan, feta or part-skim mozzarella instead of processed American slices, and plain Greek yogurt instead of high-sugar flavored varieties.
As for ice cream, you can make it an occasional treat, but keep portion size and frequency at a minimum. Or consider an all-fruit sorbet or gelato, which is a very rich Italian-style ice cream. A little goes a long way.
Milk is not traditionally part of a Mediterranean diet. If you’re new to this way of eating and are struggling to cut down your dairy, you can substitute it with unsweetened almond or soy milk, since nuts and legumes are staples of the diet.
— Dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD