What is the Mediterranean diet?

What is the Mediterranean diet?

We’ve heard a lot about how healthy a Mediterranean diet is and how it’s linked to a longer life — from lowering cholesterol and blood pressure to reducing risk for diabetes, cancer and even dementia.

But what really is the Mediterranean diet?

Dr. Rupika Uberoi-Nangia, an internal medicine physician at Aurora Health Care, gives a quick breakdown of what the power-packed diet emphasizes:

  • Increased consumption of olive oil instead of butter
  • Emphasis on plant-based foods:
    • Legumes and nuts
    • Fruits and vegetables
    • Unrefined cereals
  • Moderate consumption of dairy (mostly cheese and yogurt)
  • Fish consumption at least twice a week
    • Especially fatty fish like salmon, albacore tuna, lake trout, herring and sardines
  • Limited consumption of non-fish meat products
  • Red wine in moderation (optional)

Contrary to many other popular diets, the Mediterranean diet is not about limiting fat. Instead, it focuses on good fats. Olive oil provides monounsaturated fat, which can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fatty acids found in nuts, canola oil and fatty fish are known to be heart-healthy and can help lower triglycerides and blood pressure.

The diet limits red meat, sugary items and processed foods. There’s naturally less room for these types of foods when your plate is loaded with colorful fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Uberoi-Nangia also says social interaction is a cornerstone of being healthy, and food is very much celebrated in the Mediterranean. And as with any lifestyle, being active is a must.

So, the next time you’re at the grocery store, think about spending extra time in the fresh produce aisles and grabbing some olive oil; the red wine is optional. Then celebrate!

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  1. I know this is a great diet, and it really is, but I have to point out that the foods in Europe are grown and processed in a completely different manner than in the US. The US food supply, and apparently the water supply, is killing us slowly, no matter how healthy we try to be. Pesticides, herbicides, tainted water, non-sustainable fish farming, livestock lots, etc. No wonder why people just give up, because what doesn’t kill you today will tomorrow!

    • Yes, I agree. The US should adopt more of the European way for commerce. Europe has banned ingredients from products that are proven to be harmful, yet the US allows that.

  2. The “US” is not the problem. The US gives many other options (organic, non-GMO, sustainalbe, etc). The problem many people ignore is that consumers (that’s WE the people, not the big US government), determine what gets bought, every time you go to the store to buy something. Obviously, if many people are CHOOSING to buy foods made with “pesticides, herbicides…”, there will be a market for them and producers will make these available. Doesn’t make sense to blame them. If you don’t want “pesticides, herbicides”, etc., simply don’t buy them, but also be prepared to pay “european” prices for them. That’s the rub

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About the Author

Mary Arens
Mary Arens

Mary Arens, health enews contributor, is a senior content specialist at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has 20+ years of experience in communications plus a degree in microbiology. Outside of work, Mary makes healthy happen with hiking, yoga, gardening and walks with her dog, Chester.