Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

Mediterranean Diet Explained

Photo by Anna Pelzer

There has been a lot of hype about the Mediterranean Diet especially since it’s been found in studies to have lots of health benefits. It was found in the 1950s that heart disease was not as common in Mediterranean countries(countries around the Mediterranean sea) as it was in the U.S which prompted many studies which confirmed that Mediterranean Diet helps prevent heart disease and stroke.

The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes plant-based foods and healthy fats. The diet mostly consists of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains with olive oil being the main source of fat. Olive oil provides monounsaturated fat which lowers total cholesterol and LDL(bad cholesterol). Eating patterns are different across different Mediterranean countries so it is flexible and should be tailored per individual taste.

Guidelines of Mediterranean Diet

  • Lots of vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, lentils
  • Lots of whole grains like whole wheat bread
  • Plenty of extra virgin olive oil as a source of healthy fat
  • Moderate amount of cheese, yogurt, fish
  • Little or no meat
  • Little or no sweets, sugary drinks, or butter
  • Wine is often associated with Mediterranean diet, but should only be included in moderation and if you don’t drink, don’t start.

Benefits of Mediterranean Diet

  • Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Supports healthy weight
  • Lowers risk of heart disease(helps arteries stay flexible and resist plaque buildups)
  • Supports healthy balance of gut flora
  • Enhances body’s ability to absorb blood sugar
  • Decreases inflammation
  • Lowers risk of metabolic syndrome
  • Slows the decline of brain function
  • Helps you live longer