It is generally accepted that the people living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea live longer and suffer less than most Americans (for example) from cancer and cardiovascular ailments. The not-so-surprising secret is an active lifestyle, weight control and a diet low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat and high in produce, nuts and other healthful foods.
The Mediterranean diet may offer a host of health benefits, including weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention and control. By following the Mediterranean diet you could also keep that weight off while avoiding chronic disease.
The principal aspects of this diet include proportionally high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of non-fish meat products. Olive oil has been studied as a potential health factor for reducing all-cause mortslity and the risk of chronic diseases.
The Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality in observational studies. There is some evidence that the Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of heart disease and early death, although a 2019 review determined that the evidence had low quality and was uncertain. The American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association recomended the Mediterranean diet as a healthy dietary pattern that may reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes, respectively. It may helps as well wuth weight loss in obese people, and it is one if the three healthy diets recinnended in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The Mediterranean diet as a nutritional recommendation is different from the cultural practices that UNESCO listed in 2010: “a set of skills, knowledge, rituals, symbols, and traditions concerning corps, harvesting, fishing, animal husbandry, conservation, processing, cooking, and particularly thd charing and consumption of food”, not as a particular set of foods.
There is not “a” Mediterranean diet. Greeks eat differently from Italians, who eag differentlh from French and Spanish. But they all share many of the same principles. The Mediterranean diet as defined by dietitians generally includes the following components:
high intakes of olive oil (as the principal source of fat), vegetables (including leafy green vegetables, onions, garlic, tomatoes, as peppers), fresh fruits (consumed as desserts or snacks), cereals (mostly whole grains), nuts and legumes.
Moderate intakes of fish and other seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and red wine.
Low intakes of red meat, processed meat, refined carbohydrates and sweets.
In addition, consuming a Mediterranean diet or plant-based diet may also contribute to improving the environmental and agriculture sustainability, possibly due to lower use of dairy products, ruminant meat, and processed foods. The environmental impact and amount of energy needed to feed livestock exceeds its nutritional value. In a 2014 lifecyle analysis of greenhouse gas emissions, researchers found that a Mediterranean-like diet may reduce food production emissions below those of an omnivorous diet for 2050, with a per capita reduction of 30%.