A 2023 review explained that the Mediterranean diet is the most studied diet in the world when it comes to enhancing health.1 Research shows that eating a Mediterranean diet can benefit blood sugar, brain function, mental health, the immune system, and heart health.2
Mediterranean Diet for Heart Health
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that every 33 seconds someone dies of heart disease in the United States making it the leading cause of death for both men and women. 3
According to a 2019 review, the Mediterranean diet is “an ideal nutritional model for cardiovascular health” with the available scientific evidence being “large, strong, and consistent” showing that this eating pattern can help reduce the risk of heart disease.4
A 2023 Mediterranean diet and heart disease study involving women looked at 16 different clinical trials and found that adherence to the diet significantly reduced the risk of heart disease.5
In addition to better heart health, the Mediterranean diet is also associated with healthy aging and living a longer, healthier life.6
What Foods are Included in the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is rich in minimally processed plant foods and healthy fats such as olive oil, and it is low in saturated fat, meats, and dairy products. The foundation of the Mediterranean diet features fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs, and spices. Fish and seafood are eaten at least twice a week. Poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt are eaten in moderation with meats and sweets eaten less often.
If you are interested in switching to a Mediterranean diet, consider making these changes to your daily meals:
- Avoid highly processed foods whenever possible.
- Cook with extra virgin olive oil instead of butter and incorporate olive oil into your daily diet.
- Look at your plate and be sure that half of it is filled with fruits and/or vegetables with meat, fish, or poultry more of a side dish.
- Replace white rice and pasta with whole grains such as farro, barley, and bulgur.
- Add a variety of spices to your meals such as garlic, paprika, oregano, and rosemary.
- Choose fruit, dates, and figs over cakes, cookies, ice cream, and other sweets.
By taking steps towards the Mediterranean eating pattern, you’ll be consistently eating healthy Mediterranean diet meals in no time.
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- Dominquez LJ, Veronese N, Di Bella G, et al. Mediterranean diet in the management and prevention of obesity. Experimental Gerontology. 2023;174. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0531556523000426
- Martini D. Health Benefits of Mediterranean Diet. Nutrients. 2019;11(8):1802. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723598/?report=reader
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart disease facts. 2023;May 15. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
- Martinez-Gonzalez MA, Gea A, Ruiz-Canela M. The Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular health. Circulation Research. 2019;124(5). https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.118.313348
- Pant A, Gribbin S, McIntre D, et al. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in women with a Mediterranean diet: systemic review and meta-analysis. Heart. 2023;Mar 14. https://heart.bmj.com/content/early/2023/02/14/heartjnl-2022-321930
- Godos J, Grosso G, Ferri R, et al. Mediterranean diet, mental health, cognitive status, quality of life, and successful aging in southern Italian older adults. Exp Gerontol. 2023;175. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36907474/