Episode 19

Implementing the Med Diet - Part One

Published on: 16th September, 2022

Implementing the Med Diet - Part One

Do you think you eat enough plants in your diet? How many plants do you eat in a week? Not refined grains, but plants. You can cook them, boil, bake, microwave, roast them or even eat them raw. How many? Further, it's not just eating more volume of plants, it's diversity.

Mediterranean Diet and Plants

Adherence to the Mediterranean diet depends more on plants.

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits, Tree Nuts, Seeds
  • Legumes
  • Whole Grains
  • Olive oil

When it comes to plants, more is better. But not just in quantity of plants, but also diversity.

Think about this: there is no one plant that can provide all the micronutrients and macronutrients a person needs. We tell vegetarians to use several plant sources for complete proteins, the same is true for any nutrient.

Gut Bugs and Plants

Your gut contains a trillion bugs. There are more of them than of us. But what do they eat? It turns out, most of what they eat are the things we don't. Gut bugs eat plant parts. Without them eating those plant parts, we would be far worse off. Thus, the gut microbiome is an exciting research field.

Guts break down fiber to chemicals shown to:

  • Decrease the risk of colon cancer
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Decrease blood sugar spikes
  • Decrease depression
  • Allow absorption of polyphenols

Fiber is an Essential Nutrient

Plants provide vitamins, minerals, macro and micronutrients. A single source of plants cannot provide the nutrients a person requires, which has been the main reason we recommend a diversified diet. Fiber is also a nutrient, an essential nutrient, one that humans cannot make, but without it there is clearly an increase in disease. While those on the extreme of low-carb diets will disagree, the literature is unambiguous.


Fiber supplements are not a substitute. Some are expensive, one selling for over $150 a month. But no supplement gives you the diversity of nutrients that you can get from your diet. Mother Nature gives you a better deal. So, eat your fiber, don't buy a supplement.

Now begin to chart your diversity

Today's assignment is simple: begin to chart the diversity in your diet, so that you increase the sources of your plants. One of my favorite dieticians, Dr. Megan Rossie, suggests a person has 30 plant-based foods per week. Sound impossible? Let's try it using the Meditereanean Diet.

Why 30?

It isn't that difficult to implement, but consider that you want to consume the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients, and there is no one plant that does this. But many will.


One Mediterranean diet point is achieved by consuming 9 ounces of vegetables per day.  Run through the list of vegetables that you can add to your diet in any given week.

  1. Asparagus
  2. Beets
  3. Bok Choi
  4. Broccoli
  5. Brussels Sprouts
  6. Cabbage
  7. Cauliflower
  8. Carrots
  9. Celery
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Eggplant
  12. Jicama
  13. Kale
  14. Leeks
  15. Lettuce
  16. Onions
  17. Parsnips
  18. Peppers
  19. Spinach
  20. Squash
  21. Tomatillos
  22. Zucchini


  1. Apples
  2. Apricots
  3. Avocado
  4. Bananas
  5. Blueberries
  6. Cherries
  7. Coconuts
  8. Dates
  9. Grapes
  10. Grapefruit
  11. Jackfruit
  12. Kiwi
  13. Lemon
  14. Lime
  15. Mangos
  16. Melons
  17. Nectarines
  18. Peaches
  19. Pears
  20. Pineapple
  21. Pomegranates
  22. Plumbs
  23. Prunes
  24. Oranges
  25. Tomato
  26. Watermelon


  1. Black beans
  2. Butter beans
  3. Chickpeas
  4. Green beans
  5. Kidney beans
  6. Navy beans
  7. Pinto beans
  8. Navy beans
  9. Lentils
  10. Peanuts

Whole Grains:

  1. Barley
  2. Brown Rice
  3. Buckwheat
  4. Bulgur
  5. Corn
  6. Millet
  7. Oatmeal
  8. Whole wheat
  9. Red rice


  1. Acorns
  2. Almonds
  3. Brazil nuts
  4. Cashews
  5. Chesnuts
  6. Hazelnuts
  7. Macadamias
  8. Pecans
  9. Pine nuts
  10. Pistachios
  11. Walnuts


  1. Chia
  2. Flax seeds
  3. Hemp
  4. Pomegranate
  5. Poppy seeds
  6. Pumpkin
  7. Sesame seeds
  8. Squash seeds
  9. Sunflower

These provide a diversity of micronutrients, macronutrients and fiber.

All of which provide a healthy diet.

But let's not forget one of the most important plants:

 Perhaps the most important part of the Mediterranean Diet is this plant.



Breakfast ideas:

Overnight oats, which in my recipe has oats, chia seeds, and in the morning I add blueberries and peanut butter. There are four different plants.


Lunch ideas:

A whole grain sandwich to which I add: tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce

Add an apple

The whole grain can have multiple grains in it.Snack:

A handful of almonds


Want some pasta - how about the sauce? Start the sauce with onions, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, all in olive oil.

You haven't even had a salad yet.

On this day, we have 15.



Salads are a great way to add seeds, nuts, and even some legumes.

Buy the mixed vegetables not just the broccoli.

Terry's Tacos

The standard fast-food taco is a lot of ground beef, a lot of cheese, and a smear of sauce.

My taco is: lots of cabbage which I have for a slaw and other great crunch

My salsa has some amazing fresh ingredients in it like my mango salsa

And cheese and meat are more of a condiment. But you can reduce the meat by using lentils and mushrooms.


Vegetable soups in the winter! Lots of additions here for vegetables.


Diversity is not only healthy, but it is delicious.

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About the Podcast

Fork U with Dr. Terry Simpson
Learn more about what you put in your mouth.
Fork U(niversity)
Not everything you put in your mouth is good for you.

There’s a lot of medical information thrown around out there. How are you to know what information you can trust, and what’s just plain old quackery? You can’t rely on your own “google fu”. You can’t count on quality medical advice from Facebook. You need a doctor in your corner.

On each episode of Your Doctor’s Orders, Dr. Terry Simpson will cut through the clutter and noise that always seems to follow the latest medical news. He has the unique perspective of a surgeon who has spent years doing molecular virology research and as a skeptic with academic credentials. He’ll help you develop the critical thinking skills so you can recognize evidence-based medicine, busting myths along the way.

The most common medical myths are often disguised as seemingly harmless “food as medicine”. By offering their own brand of medicine via foods, These hucksters are trying to practice medicine without a license. And though they’ll claim “nutrition is not taught in medical schools”, it turns out that’s a myth too. In fact, there’s an entire medical subspecialty called Culinary Medicine, and Dr. Simpson is certified as a Culinary Medicine Specialist.

Where today's nutritional advice is the realm of hucksters, Dr. Simpson is taking it back to the realm of science.

About your host

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Terry Simpson

Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate, graduate, and medical degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. Until he found he liked people more than petri dishes. Dr. Simpson, a weight loss surgeon is an advocate of culinary medicine, he believes teaching people to improve their health through their food and in their kitchen. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcolm Baldrige award for healthcare in 2018 and 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska and in 2013 Dr Simpson won the National Indian Health Board Area Impact Award. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.”