Episode 36

Vegetables in the Mediterranean Diet

Published on: 23rd May, 2023

Implementing the Mediterranean Diet: Vegetables

The increase of vegetables in the diet is one way to reduce inflammation.

Vegetables are an important part of the Mediterranean diet, providing essential nutrients. A diet rich in vegetables that contain antioxidants. As a result, the Med diet reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, dementia, and anti-inflammatory diseases.

Vegetables are low in calories, but high in nutrient density. In addition to providing high nutrient value, they provide satiety. Thus making vegetables the cornerstone for weight loss and maintenance.

How Much is a Serving?

One serving of vegetables is 3 ounces (85 grams) of raw or double that cooked. Three servings of vegetables a day is the daily goal. Without a doubt, the more vegetables, the better.

Meal Ideas

Breakfast ideas for vegetables include what you might put in an omelet:  tomatoes, spinach, onions, and chives. Even the breakfast bites can have multiple vegetables in them.

While salads are great for lunch, filled with kale, radishes, and carrots, don't forget that you can pile a sandwich with lettuce, cucumbers, sprouts, and tomato.

Need a snack during the middle of the day, plan on carrots for the afternoon and for the drive home. You can't fall asleep while chewing on carrots.

Broccoli might be a great snack before dinner. Raw, even if you have a bit of ranch dressing. Buy packets of dry ranch dry ingredients and add to Greek yogurt.

Don't forget that dinner salad. Make it large and beautiful.

Supplements Are Not the Same

Vegetables contain nutrients that your body needs. They are rich in magnesium, potassium, and folate.

There is no supplement that can replace vegetables.

Do Vegetables Have Anti-nutrients?

Every study has shown that an increase in vegetables decreases heart disease, cancer, and inflammation.

People who sell supplements often point out that vegetables have anti-nutrients in them. I have talked about this in a previous podcast and post (here). Of the various supplement salesmen out there, from the self-described Carnivore and his business partner Liver King to Dr. Gundry.


Legumes like beans and lentils are nutrient-rich, protein-, and fiber-rich foods whose benefits outweigh any lectin.  High doses of lectins, when fed to animals, lead to diarrhea, inflammation, and other problems. These problems have never been seen in human studies with normal foods. The main lectins are destroyed by cooking, soaking, sprouting, fermenting, boiling, and canning.

All human trials show that diets rich in legumes, and whole grains, lead to better health.


Oxalates can be absorbed from the gut, bind to calcium, and cause calcium kidney stones. They will also bind other minerals, such as zinc. This has led some to avoid healthy foods like spinach, swiss chard, amaranth, taro, sweet potatoes, beets, rhubarb, and sorrel.

Cooking greatly decreases the oxalate content. In addition, cooking increases the nutrients of the vegetables available for absorption. The higher the vegetable content, the higher the mineral content of the diet, the fewer kidney stones are formed.  People who consume a DASH diet have a 40-50% decreased risk of kidney stones (reference). The DASH diet is the American version of the Mediterranean diet.

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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.”