The Mediterranean diet is one of the most studied diets out there. And U.S. News & World Report ranks it best diet overall.
It's based on the traditional foods that people who lived around the Mediterranean Sea ate about 50 years ago. Back then, in the mid 20th century, researchers noted that people in Spain, Greece, and Italy lived longer and healthier than Americans. And they had lower levels of heart disease, the #1 killer.
Eating a Mediterranean diet is linked with:
Less overweight and obesity (it's better than low-fat diets)
Better blood sugar control (for diabetes and metabolic syndrome)
Lower risk of heart disease and stroke (and blood markers like cholesterol and triglycerides)
Reduced risk of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases
Fewer cancers (breast & colorectal)
Less premature death
Overall, it’s simply really good for you. And it is also easy to implement and maintain. And that is key to getting weight off and keeping it off.
PRO TIP: Recent research even links the Mediterranean diet to better gut microbes! This makes sense when you feed your friendly gut microbes their favorite foods including fiber, fruit, and vegetables.
What to eat and drink on a Mediterranean diet
Fruits and vegetables
Nuts and seeds
Fish and seafood
Extra virgin olive oil
Herbs and spices
Some foods and drinks that are eaten in moderation include:
Cheese and yogurt
Wine (1 per day)
What to ditch on a Mediterranean diet
There are many foods and drinks that are not part of the Mediterranean diet. Not surprisingly, this includes many highly processed and unhealthy foods like:
Sauces and gravies
Sugar-sweetened beverages or fruit juices
Refined grains and oils (including hydrogenated oils)
Too much salt
And if alcohol is a problem, you can also ditch the wine. It will also increase your weight loss, if you abstain from drinking.
The Mediterranean diet adopts a different lifestyle, which also includes movement, socializing and relaxing. I think that is what I enjoy so much about Portugal when I go over there. We spend a lot of time walking, getting outdoors in the sunshine, eating whole foods at a leisurely pace, and engaging with others.
The Mediterranean diet is a healthy, whole foods based diet that can be followed easily and maintained. It is also chockful of nutrients (vitamins, fiber, minerals, healthy fats and anti-oxidants).
Don't forget that health involves more than just food. The Mediterranean lifestyle also incorporates regular exercise, eating with people whom you care about, and overall enjoyment of life.
Recipe: Roasted Cod with Vegetables
4 cod fillets 2 handfuls asparagus, ends removed 1 cup black kalamata olives, drained 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise 4 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
2 tsp dried dill
2 dashes freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, sliced
Preheat oven to 450ºF and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.Place the fillets in the middle of the pan. Add the asparagus, olives, garlic, and tomatoes around the fish.
Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with dill and pepper. Slice lemon and place one onto each fillet. Squeeze juice from the rest of the lemon onto the vegetables.Roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes.
Check if fillets are opaque all the way through and flake easily with a fork. If not, then cook for another few minutes.