The Mediterranean diet is inspired by foods eaten in the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece, France, Spain and southern Italy.
In some ways, the Mediterranean diet is similar to other heart-healthy diets. It encourages you to eat foods such as fish, fruits and vegetables, beans and whole grains. Also, it does not include many meats, dairy products or sweets. However, in other ways, the Mediterranean diet is different from other heart-healthy diets. For example, it typically allows for more calories from fat (as long as you choose unsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil). It also allows for moderate consumption of wine on a regular basis.
Studies have shown that following the Mediterranean diet has many health benefits, especially when combined with exercise. It can help you lose weight and control your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. In older adults, it can help slow cognitive decline (when your brain doesn’t work as well as it used to). Following the Mediterranean diet also protects against some chronic diseases, including the following:
Switching to a Mediterranean diet after you are diagnosed with heart disease or cancer can make you less likely to die from your disease.
There are some easy ways to incorporate the Mediterranean diet into your lifestyle. Try some of the tips below. If you have questions, talk to your family doctor.
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Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Can a Mediterranean diet lower my risk of Alzheimer’s?. Accessed October 29, 2010
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Mediterranean diet: Choose this heart-healthy option. Accessed October 29, 2010
MedlinePlus. Mediterranean diet. Accessed October 29, 2010
Physical activity, diet and risk of Alzheimer disease by Scarmeas N, Luchsinger JA, Schupf N, et al (JAMA 2009;302(6):627-37 , http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/302/6/627.full)
Adherence to Mediterranean diet and health status: Meta-analysis by Sofi F, Cesari F, Abbate R, Gensini GF, Casini A (BMJ 2008;337:a1344 , http://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a1344.full?sid=620f9b09-2477-40c0-b3ce-743eb6c7c78e)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff