The Mediterranean Diet and Good Health
What Is the Mediterranean Diet?
An abundance of plant foods:
- Breads and cereals
- Beans, nuts, and seeds
- Olive oil used as a common monounsaturated fat source
- Low-to-moderate amounts of fish and poultry
- Small amounts of red meat
- Low-to-moderate amounts of dairy products (mostly cheese and yogurt)
- Low-to-moderate amounts of eggs (zero to four times per week)
- Low-to-moderate amounts of wine (one to two glasses of wine per day), normally consumed with meals
Comparison With the American Diet
- Animal products daily, as main source of protein
- White starches, predominantly
- Moderate to low in fruits and vegetables
- High in saturated and trans fats
Mediterranean Diet Pyramid
- Along the base is daily physical activity, as well as a reminder to eat meals with friends and family.
- The next layer is food that should be eaten daily. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes and seeds, and herbs and spices.
- The layer above that features fish and seafood. Eat these more often (at least two times per week).
- The second layer from the top includes poultry and eggs. Eat these every two days or once per week. Cheese and yogurt is also in this layer, which should be eaten daily to weekly.
- The final layer has meats and sweets, which should be eaten less often.
- Reduce the rate of death in people who have had a heart attack
- Reduce the rate of heart attack in people who have heart disease
- Reduce the rate of stroke
- Aid in weight loss
- Lower the risk of developing cancer
- Lower HbA1c levels (a measurement of how well the body uses blood sugar) in people with diabetes
- Reduce pain in rheumatoid arthritis
- Lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome—The term "metabolic syndrome" refers to a group of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. These risk factors include obesity, low amounts of "good" (HDL) cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and prediabetes.
Tips for Mediterranean Eating
- Include an abundance of food from plant sources such as fruits, vegetables, potatoes, whole grains, seeds, and nuts.
- Choose a variety of minimally processed foods, preferably those that are seasonally and locally grown.
- Use olive oil as the principal fat in your diet, replacing other fats and oils.
- Eat low-to-moderate daily amounts of cheese and yogurt (preferably low-fat and non-fat versions).
- Eat fish and poultry at least twice per week.
- Have fresh fruit as your typical daily dessert.
- Eat red meat only a few times per month. When eating red meat, choose lean cuts and smaller portions. Avoid sausage, bacon, and other meats that are high in fat.
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation http://www.cdhf.ca/
Dietitians of Canada http://www.dietitians.ca/
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Mediterranean diet pyramid. Oldways website. Available at http://www.oldwayspt.org/resources/heritage-pyramids/mediterranean-diet-pyramid. Accessed July 2, 2012.
7/22/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Shai I, Schwarzfuchs D, Henkin Y, et al. Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or low-fat diet. N Engl J Med. 2008;359:229-241.
1/13/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Salas-Salvadó J, Fernández-Ballart J, Ros E, et al. Effect of a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts on metabolic syndrome status: one-year results of the PREDIMED randomized trial. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168:2449-2458.
10/9/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Sánchez-Villegas A, Delgado-Rodríguez M, Alonso A, et al. Association of the Mediterranean dietary pattern with the incidence of depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009;66:1090.
1/31/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Salas-Salvadó J, Bulló M, Babio N, Martínez-González MÁ, et al. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with the Mediterranean diet: results of the PREDIMED-Reus nutrition intervention randomized trial. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(1):14-19.
7/22/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Kastorini CM, Milionis HJ, Esposito K, Giugliano D, Goudevenos JA, Panagiotakos DB. The effect of Mediterranean diet on metabolic syndrome and its components: a meta-analysis of 50 studies and 534,906 individuals. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011;57(11):1299-1313.
8/27/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Corella D, Carrasco P, Sorli J, et al. Mediterranean diet reduces the adverse effect of the TCF7L2-rs7903146 polymortphism on cardiovascular risk factors and stroke incidence. Diabetes Care. 2013 Aug 13. [Epub ahead of print].
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 07/2012 -
- Update Date: 08/27/2013 -