The Mediterranean diet reflects the traditional eating habits in the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. Research has consistently shown that this pattern of eating is connected with good health. The Mediterranean Diet is ranked #1 (in Best Diets Overall) in the 2019 U.S. News Best Diet Rankings. 41 diets were evaluated with input from a panel of health experts. These diets were evaluated on a range of levels, from their heart healthiness to their likelihood to help you lose weight.
No matter where you live you can adopt and enjoy a delicious Mediterranean-style diet. Choose nutrient-rich foods instead of nutrient-poor foods. The Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy eating plan that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables (variety of color), lean protein, healthy oils (Extra virgin olive oil), whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Click here for the Mediterranean diet pyramid
This healthy diet includes:
- Eating fish and poultry at least twice per week and limiting red meat to no more than a few times per month. Including foods like eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation.
- Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods.
- Avoiding hydrogenated oils (trans fats) which are found in fried foods and processed foods such as pies, cookies, pastries, donuts and frozen food.
- Limiting refined sugars and carbohydrates such as white bread and white rice.
- Sticking with water as your beverage of choice is best, as there is no benefit to adding sugary drinks. Drinking red wine in moderation (optional).
- Focusing on whole, natural foods and eating lots of vegetables.
- For dessert, eating fresh fruit and saving sweets for a special treat or celebration.
- Taking time to savor your food and enjoy your meals with family and friends.
- Incorporating plenty of physical activity and exercise.
The Mediterranean Diet is Rich in Anti-Inflammatory Foods.
Choose an anti-inflammatory diet to reduce levels of inflammation. Inflammation is our body’s way of protecting itself from infection, illness or injury. Chronic (long-term) inflammation can occur inside our body without any noticeable symptoms. This type of inflammation may be a common factor in many diseases. Eating unhealthy foods, stress and a sedentary lifestyle are associated with increased inflammation. Your anti-inflammatory diet should provide a balance of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats at each meal. Boost your intake of whole, antioxidant-rich foods and cut out refined, processed food products.
This Diet Focuses on Healthy Fats.
The fat consumed with a Mediterranean diet is generally from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats rather than saturated and trans fats which are common in most processed foods. Researchers believe these healthy fats contribute to the heart-healthy benefits of this diet. Olive oil is recommended as the primary added fat. This oil, which is rich in oleic acid – a monounsaturated fatty acid, and contains large amounts of antioxidants, has a protective role against coronary diseases and other health problems. Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids include fish, vegetables, especially leafy greens, and nuts and seeds.
The Mediterranean diet’s health benefits are well studied.
This diet primarily consists of whole foods that contain large amounts of fiber. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil, nuts and fish offer anti-inflammatory health benefits and are good for the brain, helping to preserve memory and prevent cognitive decline. Based on much research, this diet can protect against the development of heart disease, help lower cholesterol, strengthen bones and help with weight loss. This type of eating pattern can help improve inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and reduce the risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s, type-2 diabetes and various types of cancer. It’s never too late to start eating a healthy diet to reap physical and mental health benefits.
It Promotes Healthy Weight Management.
The Mediterranean diet is low in processed foods and sugar. Physical activity and regular, balanced meals are encouraged. Due to the high-quality protein foods, healthy fat content and the abundance of fiber, this diet is helpful in managing fullness. Simple carbohydrates are replaced with whole grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and legumes. This can be adapted for intermittent fasting, where you eat all your meals within a certain time frame, usually an eight to twelve hour window. Due to your overall genetic makeup you may lean more toward a paleo, low-carbohydrate or keto diet plan. These offer variations in the percentage of macronutrients (carbohydrates/protein/fat) that are consumed daily. The basic distribution for a healthy Mediterranean diet is a balance of all three. Whatever combination of macronutrients you choose, the underlying principle stands: choose whole, natural foods.
This Way of Eating May Help You Live Longer.
Research studies continue to support the benefits of the Mediterranean dietary pattern to increase life expectancy, reduce the risk of major chronic disease, and improve quality of life and well-being. A diet high in fresh plant foods and healthy fats creates a strong cornerstone for longevity. This diet also encourages daily physical activity, spending time in nature, getting good sleep and enjoying home-cooked meals with family and friends. Embracing the Mediterranean lifestyle can lead to living a longer, healthier life.
-Diane Duvall, Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine. Our Internal Medicine Practice is an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine. We offer health coaching sessions to help you reach your personal goals. Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Suite A, Atlantis FL 33462. Phone: (561) 432-8935, Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow us on Facebook