The Mediterranean diet has gained recognition worldwide for its numerous health benefits and its ability to promote longevity.
Amid all the superfoods and fad diets, one style of eating consistently comes out on top as the best: the Mediterranean diet. In 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022, it was ranked as the best diet to try by U.S. News & World Report.
It earns first-place rights for its impressive roster of health benefits, including heart protection, weight regulation and cancer reduction.
The Mediterranean diet is inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It looks at the consumption of plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Olive oil is the primary source of fat, and moderate amounts of fish, poultry, dairy and red wine are also included.
Numerous studies have highlighted the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, contributing to its enduring popularity.
Here are some key findings:
A landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that following the Mediterranean diet significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes.
The diet consisting of olive oil, fish, and a wide variety of plant foods has proven to be cardioprotective.
Furthermore, large-scale population studies have consistently shown that adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with increased longevity.
The diet’s high intake of antioxidant-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, helps counteract oxidative stress and age-related illnesses.
What the people in the Blue Zones eat undoubtedly plays a role in their longevity.
For example, researchers analysed 155 dietary surveys done in all five Blue Zones over the last 100 years, and found that foods from plants are central to the diets in all the Blue Zones — their diets are 90 to 98% whole-food, plant-based.
A plant-based diet also has been shown to reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes.
Which is the best diet to manage health? Trends come and go, but one diet that has stood the test of time is The Mediterranean Diet. When compared to other popular diets and diet trends, the Mediterranean diet offers several distinct advantages:
Unlike restrictive diets that focus on severe caloric restriction or the elimination of entire food groups, the Mediterranean diet is sustainable in the long term. Its emphasis on a variety of wholesome foods makes it easier to incorporate into everyday life.
The Mediterranean diet strikes a balance between carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. It offers a healthy ratio of unsaturated fats from olive oil and fish, a moderate intake of lean proteins, and high fibre from plant-based foods.
Consuming omega-3s commonly found in this type of diet, from salmon oil is linked with a variety of health benefits, including reducing inflammation, aiding weight management and boosting heart and brain health.
Our modern-day diet trends rely on processed or artificially modified foods. In contrast, the Mediterranean diet primarily comprises whole, unprocessed foods that provide a rich array of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.
Mediterranean diet recipe for White Bean & Veggie Salad from EatingWell reviewed by dietitian Victoria Seaver, M.S., RD:
White bean & veggie salad
2 cups mixed salad greens
¾ cup veggies of your choice, such as chopped cucumbers and cherry tomatoes
⅓ cup canned white beans rinsed and drained
½ avocado, diced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Combine greens, veggies, beans and avocado in a medium bowl. Drizzle with vinegar and oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and transfer to a large plate.
The Mediterranean diet contains healthy fats. The primary source of fat in the Mediterranean diet is olive oil, which is rich in mono-unsaturated fats.
Other sources of healthy fats include avocados, nuts (such as almonds, walnuts, and cashews), and seeds.
These fats provide essential nutrients and help protect against heart disease.
Additionally, it includes moderate amounts of fish, such as salmon, trout, sardines, and mackerel, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Poultry, including chicken and turkey, can also be consumed in moderation.
Red meat is not a central component of this diet. Instead, it is consumed sparingly and in smaller portions. When consumed, it is recommended to choose lean cuts of meat.
Although red meat is a good source of protein and iron, research has linked it to heart disease, certain cancers and other health conditions.