The Mediterranean Diet: Cruise to a Healthier You

You’ve no doubt heard a lot of talk about the Mediterranean Diet. But what is it? And does it deserve all the hype?

Actually, the Mediterranean diet is pretty hard to beat. It’s less a diet focused on weight loss and more of a healthier, lifestyle-approach to eating, daily exercise, and enjoying meals (and even a little red wine) with family and friends.

What is the Mediterranean diet?

Primarily plant-based, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes a menu of:

  • Six to eight servings per day of fresh (when possible) fruits and vegetables
  • Two or three servings per day of whole grains, like quinoa, brown rice, couscous, whole-wheat pastas or bread
  • Protein from beans, lentils, fish and seafood, Greek yogurt, small amounts of cheese, nuts and seeds, poultry.
  • Olive oil instead of butter
  • Flavor from herbs, and spices
  • Beef and pork, only occasionally and in small quantities

And while the diet is trending, it’s not new. The Mediterranean diet has been around for thousands of years. Back in the 1950s, the Seven Countries Study brought together researchers from all over the world to study coronary heart disease.

Over decades, research showed that serum cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and smoking are universal risk factors for heart disease. But research also showed that eating and lifestyle patterns found in Italy and Greece, as well as Japan, was associated with a low risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Now popularly known as the Mediterranean diet, the food and lifestyle are also proved to postpone cognitive decline and decrease the risk of depression.

What makes the Mediterranean diet so good?

Backed by science

The Mediterranean diet has been studied pretty extensively for decades. Numerous studies show that conformity with the traditional Mediterranean diet is associated with better cardiovascular health outcomes, including clinically meaningful reductions in rates of coronary heart disease, stroke, and total cardiovascular disease.

In 2018, a study of 26,000 women in the United States showed that among those who followed the Mediterranean diet, experienced up to 28% relative risk reduction in cardiovascular events, as well as a decrease in biomarkers of inflammation, glucose metabolism and insulin resistance.

scientific diet apple technology

Adaptable

The Mediterranean diet, with its emphasis on fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, fish and other seafood, is adaptable to many other food cultures. Oldways, a food-focused nonprofit, notes that Asian, African, and Latin American heritage diets have their own distinct ingredients and cooking styles but follow some of the same principles.

Affordable

Fresh doesn’t have to mean fancy. Shop store brands and in-season fruits and vegetables to save money. Beans, a staple of the Mediterranean diet, are more affordable than meat. Plus, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes healthy home cooking, which is nearly always less expensive than restaurant meals.

Tastes great

Juicy berries. Ripe tomatoes. Piles of salad greens dressed lightly with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. An omelet studded with feta cheese, herbs and vegetables. A handful of walnuts sprinkled on Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey. Sounds pretty good, right? That’s the Mediterranean diet.

So good (it could be bad)

In fact, foods on the Mediterranean diet might taste so good that the diet does need a warning label: Since there are no pre-packaged meals to limit calories, overeating is a possibility. And, not everything that appears on a menu in a Mediterranean-style restaurant should be consumed with abandon—big slices of pizza, heaping bowls of pasta, and meatball subs, for example, are more American than Mediterranean.

hungry man looking in fridge

It’s up to you to still follow your recommended daily calorie intake, which will vary according to gender, age, and activity level. The Mediterranean diet is less for weight loss and more for overall health, although by cutting processed foods and eating more fruits and vegetables, you are likely to see positive results.

Check back later this week for three great Mediterranean meal ideas covering breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Meanwhile, stock your fridge, pantry, and spice drawer with Mediterranean diet staples and cruise to healthy—and delicious meals:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Olive oil
  • Vegetables—fresh or frozen
  • Fruit—fresh or frozen
  • Beans—dried or canned
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains, including couscous, barley, bulgur, farro, polenta, brown rice, whole-grain pasta, quinoa, whole-wheat bread and oatmeal
  • Hummus
  • Honey
  • Olives
  • Feta cheese
  • Tomatoes—fresh or canned
  • Spices, fresh and dry, including parsley, mint, basil, dill weed, thyme, rosemary, sage, bay leaves, paprika, red pepper flakes, cumin, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg
  • Garlic and garlic powder
  • Onion and onion powder
411 Comments
  • Anita Fondaw
    Posted at 09:03h, 03 February

    Thanks for the information.

  • Brenda Watkins
    Posted at 16:06h, 02 February

    Interesting

  • Kenneth Owens
    Posted at 13:21h, 01 February

    Thanks

  • Rodney Hairston
    Posted at 11:31h, 01 February

    Thanks good information

  • Trista Bates
    Posted at 13:40h, 31 January

    Good to know

  • Sukhwinder singh
    Posted at 13:25h, 31 January

    Thanks

  • Larry Carter
    Posted at 01:18h, 31 January

    Thanks

  • Rita Iannello
    Posted at 15:42h, 30 January

    Great diet!

  • Toni Bullitt
    Posted at 14:58h, 30 January

    Eating like this will improve our lives SHALOM SHALOM

  • Kim Bigalk
    Posted at 14:37h, 30 January

    Thanks

  • Dakoda Brungs
    Posted at 14:05h, 30 January

    Thanks

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