Mediterranean diet is a general term based on traditional eating habits in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
Eating habits vary between these countries and even among regions within each country because of diversity in culture, ethnic background, economy, religion, geography, and agricultural production. Nevertheless, there are some common factors.
A Mediterranean Diet Typically Includes:
- lots of fruits, vegetables, bread, and other grains, beans, potatoes, nuts, and seeds.
- dairy products, fish, eggs, and poultry in low to moderate amounts.
- olive oil as a primary fat source.
Fish and poultry are more popular than red meat in this diet. It additionally centers on minimally processed, plant-based foods. Wine may be consumed in low to moderate amounts, normally with meals. The fruit is a common dessert rather than sweets.
Does the American Heart Association recommend a Mediterranean-style diet?
Yes. A Mediterranean-style diet can help you achieve the American Heart Association’s recommendations for a healthy dietary pattern that:
- indicates vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and legumes
- comprises low-fat or fat-free dairy products, fish, poultry, non-tropical vegetable oils, and nuts
- limits added sugars, sugary beverages, sodium, highly processed foods, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and fatty or processed meats.
This style of consumption can play a big role in stopping heart disease and stroke and decreasing risk factors such as diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and high blood pressure. There is some evidence that a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil may help the body remove excess cholesterol from arteries and keep blood vessels open.
What about other popular diets?
You may have come across popular diets like paleo, ketogenic (or keto), Atkins, interval, zone, and Whole30. Have in mind, not all trendy diets meet the AHA’s science-based standards for a healthy eating pattern. Some show trendy but short-term results and are not heart-healthy.
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is a different eating plan that aligns with AHA recommendations and has been proven to promote health. The DASH diet allows more dairy products and meat, while the Mediterranean diet includes regular use of olive oil.
A plant-based, vegetarian, or vegan diet can also be a healthy way to eat.
The important thing is to center on the overall quality of your diet, rather than single nutrients or foods. Try to include more nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and lean proteins. Limit foods that offer lots of calories but little nutritional value.
What are the other benefits of a healthy diet?
What you consume influences many aspects of your overall health style, including brain health. A healthy diet can increase your ability to think, remember, and process information as you age.
In one research, the healthiest eaters at age 50 had a nearly 90% lower risk of dementia linked with those who had the least healthy diets. The Mediterranean and DASH diets have been shown to promote brain health as well as enhance heart health.