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 (0-4 times per week)
- Low-to-moderate amounts of wine (1-2 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 2 times per week).
- The second layer from the top includes poultry and eggs. Eat these every 2 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 —A condition marked by elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, and body weight. Excess weight centered around the midsection is of particular concern.
- Decreased cognitive impairment.
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.
The American Heart Association http://www.heart.org
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation http://www.cdhf.ca
Dietitians of Canada http://www.dietitians.ca
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7/22/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: 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 http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: 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 http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: 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 http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: 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 http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: 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 http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: 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].
1/30/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mediterranean diet, stroke, cognitive impairment, and depression: A meta-analysis. Ann Neurol. 2013 Oct;74(4):580-91.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 05/2014 -
- Update Date: 05/08/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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