The Mediterranean Diet Makes a Strong Case That the Right Bread Can Actually Be Good For You

There's so much to love about the Mediterranean diet, from the long list of foods you can enjoy to its emphasis on community. (Wine with friends? Sure.) But there might be nothing more satisfying than this: there's really nothing that's off-limits on the Mediterranean diet, including carbs like bread.

That said, you do have to be choosy, always reaching for whole grains over refined grains. "Whole grains imply that the entire grain kernel is still intact. Refined grains, on the other hand, have been stripped of key nutrients by way of a process called milling," Mary Claire Shurina, RD, told POPSUGAR. This distinction is important because "whole grains have fiber, which slows down digestion to maintain steady blood sugar control. They also provide essential vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and copper," she said.

These key nutrients can play a big role in reducing your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, all of which are considered protective benefits of the Mediterranean diet — one reason it's consistently ranked as the best diet out there, both for weight loss and overall health.

As you can see, all breads are not created equal. So the next time you shop for groceries, do a little nutrition-label sleuthing. "When choosing bread, look for '100 percent whole grain' or '100 percent whole wheat' on the package," Mary advised. These whole grains can include wheat, oats, flax, buckwheat, or rye, and they should be the very first ingredient listed on the label. Ezekiel bread is a favorite because it is made with sprouted grains and no added sugars. You could also stop by the bakery for a fresh sourdough loaf or bake your own.

Once you get that bread home, there are plenty of flavorful ways to incorporate it into your Mediterranean diet. Try starting your day with a couple slices of avocado toast, add some crunchy whole-grain croutons to your lunchtime salad, or serve up a tomato-topped bruschetta with salmon and veggies for dinner.