What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet reduces risk factors that can cause heart disease including high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, obesity & high blood pressure.

We all know the Mediterranean diet to be a “heart-healthy diet”. But what exactly IS the Mediterranean diet?

The first country that comes to mind when Americans think about the Mediterranean diet is Greece. We actually went to Greece on our honeymoon and FELL. IN. LOVE. with the food and culture. Need get back there soon…

BUT the diet is more than just Greek food guys. It’s actually based on the cuisines of a variety of countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea including Italy, Greece, Spain, Morocco, Cyprus, Croatia and more.

map of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

While the cuisines of each of these countries are quite different, they all have a few things in common when it comes to dietary habits. The diets of these Mediterranean countries are:

  • Devoid of processed foods
  • Limited in saturated fat, trans fat and refined sugar
  • Focused on fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Rich in whole grains
  • Plentiful in beans and legumes
  • Loaded with lean protein
  • Abundant in healthy fats

But wait, there’s more! The diet actually goes beyond these wholesome, nutritious and plant-forward foods. It’s a way of life; an attitude; an appreciation for living in the moment. These countries are known for lifestyle habits that include:

  • Relaxed meal times shared with family and friends
  • Mindful eating
  • Daily physical activity
  • Stress relief
  • Meaningful social engagement in the community

infographic defining the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle

Numerous scientific studies have found that the Mediterranean diet reduces risk factors that can lead to heart disease, including high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure. In fact, experts have analyzed “blue zones” – places on earth with the world’s lowest rates of chronic disease and the highest life expectancies – and developed the following Mediterranean Diet pyramid to match the dietary and lifestyle habits of these populations.

the Oldways Mediterranean diet food pyramid

Looking to shift your eating pattern to be more Mediterranean? Check out my favorite Mediterranean diet cookbooks for inspiration!

 

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