The Mediterranean diet, or Mediterranean lifestyle, has been closely studied for decades and is widely recognized among healthcare professionals, including the American Heart Association, as one of the most heart-healthy diets.
The term diet, unfortunately, has a bad reputation. While it literally means, “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats,” it also means “a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.”
The difference is that the Mediterranean diet is not a restrictive fad diet, but rathera delicious, non-restrictive way of eating that promotes delicious meals full of flavor and nutrition. It really is a way of living, a food pattern that overlaps with lifestyle habits including eating with others, getting enough physical activity and sleep. What could be better?
The proof is in the science - following a Mediterranean diet has been proven to be useful in preventing obesity (1), cardiovascular disease (2), dementia (3), diabetes (4) and all-cause mortality (5), among other benefits. It has been shown to promote not only weight loss, but long term weight maintenance, something that other popular “diets” fail to achieve.
The Mediterranean diet promotes eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, lean poultry and fish and heart-healthy oils, especially olive oil.
In the Mediterranean, almost all dishes are prepared with olive oil. Olives are rich sources of polyphenols, or antioxidants, that have a potent ability to fight against free radicals and inflammation. The abundance of polyphenols in Mediterranean cuisine plays a key role in the promotion of longevity.
Studies show that cooking with and eating olive oil instead of other fats like butter, coconut oil, vegetable oils, and shortening can seriously decrease your risk of heart disease, reduce overall inflammation, and prevent premature aging and disease.
- Mihas C, et al. Evaluation of a nutrition intervention in adolescents of an urban area in Greece: short- and long-term effects of the VYRONAS study. Public Health Nutrition, 2009. 13(5), 712-719.
- Harmon BE, et al. Associations of key diet-quality indexes with mortality in the Multiethnic Cohort: the Dietary Patterns Methods Project.American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2015. 101:587-97.
- Lourida I, et al. Mediterranean diet, cognitive function, and dementia: a systematic review.Epidemiology,2013. 24(4): 479-89.
- Benson G, et al. Rationale for the Use of a Mediterranean Diet in Diabetes Management. Diabetes Spectrum, 2011. 24(1): 36-40.
Bo S, et al. Predictive role of the Mediterranean diet on mortality in individuals at low cardiovascular risk: a 12-year follow-up population-based cohort study.Journal of Translational Medicine, 2016. 14:91.