For the sixth year in a row, the US News & World Report has ranked the Mediterranean diet as the healthiest diet in the world. Why this diet? It’s easy to follow, focuses on great-tasting healthy foods, and has more positive research than any other eating pattern possible. Let’s take a closer look.
What Does the Research Tell Us?
According to a 2023 review, the Mediterranean diet has the largest body of research available when it comes to supporting and enhancing health.1 That review also concluded that people who follow a Mediterranean diet are more likely to have a healthy, normal body weight and reduce the risk of obesity. Eating a Mediterranean diet will help support nearly every system in the human body including the brain, heart, immunity, and blood sugar.
What is The Mediterranean Diet?
It’s called the Mediterranean diet because it originated from the Mediterranean region which includes France, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Greece, and many other countries. There are key characteristics of the Mediterranean diet that makes it health-promoting, including: 2
- Minimally processed foods
- Seasonally fresh, locally grown foods
- Colorful fruits and vegetables
- Extra-virgin olive oil is the principal fat source
- High intake of nuts and seeds
- Red meat is consumed in lower amounts
- Fish is a key protein source at least twice a week
- Features less salt and more spices, onions, and garlic
One of the best aspects of the Mediterranean diet is that it’s diverse, interesting, and flavorful. You won’t get bored with your meals when you are eating more Mediterranean! The trick is to just get started.
Your Beginner’s Guide
Here are some tips to eat a more Mediterranean-style diet:
- Cook with extra virgin olive oil instead of butter
- Add in healthy snacks like nuts, dried fruit, and berries
- Make meat, fish, or poultry more of a side dish with half your plate being fruits and vegetables
- If you are going to eat cheese, avoid processed cheeses and choose strong-flavored cheeses like Parmesan or feta
- Opt for whole grains like farro, barley, and bulgur over white rice and pasta
- Replace sweets like cakes, cookies, and ice cream with fruit, dates, and figs
- Cook with a variety of spices like basil, cumin, oregano, paprika, rosemary, and thyme
- Add more legumes including beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas
A Way of Life
Keep in mind that in addition to eating healthy, the Mediterranean diet becomes a way of life. The Mediterranean lifestyle includes physical activity, rest and relaxation, social connection, community, and friendship.3 It’s all about living life with zest, passion and joy. And when you eat and live more Mediterranean, you’ll feel the difference!
1 Dominquez LJ, Veronese N, Di Bella G, et al. Mediterranean diet in the management and prevention of obesity. Experimental Gerontology. 2023;174. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0531556523000426
2 Guasch-Ferre M, Willett WC. The Mediterranean diet and health: a comprehensive overview. Journal of Internal Medicine. 2021;290(3):549-566. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/joim.13333
3 Williamson L. Mediterranean lifestyle, not just diet, may greatly improve health. American Heart Association. 2023;Feb 28. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2023/02/28/mediterranean-lifestyle-not-just-diet-may-greatly-improve-health