What is the Mediterranean Diet?
You voted, and my next diet feature is the Mediterranean Diet!
The Mediterranean-style diet is often praised for its associations with improved longevity and low rates of chronic disease and certain cancers. The diet is based on the eating patterns of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, particularly Greece and southern Italy.1 The exact parameters of the Mediterranean diet are not entirely clear and vary somewhat depending on who you ask.2 Part of this stems from the fact that there are several different Mediterranean countries – each with their own unique culture. Their diets are distinct and therefore have different characteristics.
In general, however, there are some trends that are consistent. According to the American Heart Association and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the Mediterranean Diet includes:
- high consumption of fruits, vegetables, bread and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds
- fresh fruit as a daily dessert
- olive oil as the prominent fat source
- dairy products, fish and poultry in low to moderate amounts
- less than 2 servings of red meat per week
- 0-4 eggs per week
- wine in low to moderate amounts1-2
The Fundación Dieta Mediterránea developed a food guide pyramid reflecting Mediterranean Diet recommendations as well:
Starting next Monday, I will be following these recommendations for 3 weeks and detailing the experience for you! I’ll be keeping tabs on how much it costs to follow, the challenges of following it, and more. Comment below with what you’d like to know about the Mediterranean Diet!
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1. Willet W C, et al. Mediterranean diet pyramid: a cultural model for healthy eating. June 1995. 61:6(1402S-1406S). https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/61.6.1402S.
2. American Heart Association. Mediterranean Diet. Reviewed April 2018. Accessed September 2019 at https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/mediterranean-diet.