Looking for a non-restrictive eating plan that marries health benefits with delicious food (and even wine)? The Mediterranean Diet could be right for you. Read on to learn more about this fun, flavorful, and health-conscious diet.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean Diet is a way of eating inspired by the traditional diets of countries located near the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece, Spain, Italy, Morocco, and Lebanon. American interest in the diets of these countries began during the 1950s, when researchers found that Mediterranean populations often experienced lower risks of heart disease, stroke, and other health problems than Western populations.
The Mediterranean Diet has plenty of room for variation, but in general it includes:
- High amounts of vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, nuts, and whole grains.
- Extra virgin olive oil as a regular source of healthy fat.
- Moderate amounts of fish, cheese, and yogurt.
- Some chicken and poultry, with little to no red meat.
- Little to no sugar, butter, or processed foods.
A traditional Mediterranean Diet also includes moderate amounts of wine with meals, though, of course this is optional.
Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is best known for promoting a healthy heart—the diet has been linked to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Researchers believe this is because many of the diet’s staples, such as olive oil and fish, are high in healthy fats.
Some studies have also associated the Mediterranean Diet with other health benefits including improved digestion, increased cognitive function, reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, and even reduced risk of certain types of cancers.
The Mediterranean Diet is generally good for your health because it delivers a wide variety of necessary nutrients while limiting your intake of sodium, sugar, and saturated fat. It’s also far less restrictive than other diets—it’s more a set of guidelines than hard and fast rules—and so some people may find it easier to follow.
How to Get Started
As with any new eating plan, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor before fully committing to a Mediterranean Diet. No diet is one-size-fits-all, and your doctor can advise you on any factors related to your health and medical history that you should consider. Once you’ve got the green light, try searching for recipes based on Mediterranean building blocks like vegetables, whole grains, and fish.
The Mediterranean Diet: What’s Not to Love?
The Mediterranean Diet is a flexible, delicious, healthy eating plan that you can modify to fit your needs and lifestyle. Start incorporating Mediterranean ingredients into your meals to see—and feel—the benefits for yourself!