The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been widely studied and are frequently praised as the “gold standard” in preventive medicine. The diet is largely known for its association with increased longevity, heart health and brain health, but the benefits don’t stop there! It also helps with weight loss, improves bone health, and reduces your risk of stroke, diabetes, and some cancers.
What I love about the Mediterranean diet is, despite its name, it’s more of a lifestyle than a rigid set of dietary rules. The main tenets include consuming a mostly plant-based diet, having strong social networks, eating together with family, decreasing stress, and staying physically active.
The Mediterranean diet relies heavily on plants, which are loaded with phytonutrients, fiber and antioxidants. It’s also naturally high in heart-healthy omega-3 fats, which help improve the body’s inflammatory response and benefit brain health.
The Mediterranean diet also focuses on how you eat as much as what you eat. With a strong emphasis on bringing joy back to preparing, cooking and eating food, the lifestyle encourages meals be eaten slowly and mindfully — and always with friends and family! This aspect of the diet is a meaningful contributor to its association with living a longer life.
Given the long list of proven benefits, the Mediterranean diet is worth considering as a sustainable, long-term option for improving your health and overall well-being.
WHAT FOODS ARE INCLUDED IN THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET?
The Mediterranean diet is modeled after diets common in Italy, Spain and Greece. It emphasizes eating lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, seeds, whole grains and fish. It also includes liberal use of olive oil, a moderate amount of dairy, and very little red meat.
Looking for some specific ideas? Try sauteeing mushrooms, onion and spinach in olive oil, then folding them into scrambled eggs with fresh herbs for a Mediterranean take on a frittata or try this recipe. This red lentil and beet hummus would be great as a snack with chopped veggies. Whip up a pot of minestrone for lunch or dinner with this quick Instant Pot recipe.
Beets and beet greens
Fresh herbs like basil, oregano, dill, thyme, parsley, rosemary, mint or cilantro
Tomatoes (canned and fresh)
Zucchini and squash
BEANS & LEGUMES
Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
Canned fish (sustainable tuna, salmon, anchovies, clams and sardines)
Plain Greek yogurt
OILS, SPICES & CONDIMENTS
Extra virgin olive oil
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THE BOTTOM LINE
The Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle based on plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes and includes liberal use of olive oil. It has many health benefits including lower risk of many chronic diseases, improving overall health and well-being. It also recommends being active and enjoying meals together with friends and family, a major contributor to increased longevity.
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