Savoring Wellness: The Mediterranean Diet's Recipe for Long-Term Health

22 January 2024

Food nourishes, heals, and brings joy to our body, mind, and spirit.

More than ever, we want to make sound and informed choices about what we put on our tables.

For eight consecutive years, from 2018 to 2024, the Mediterranean Diet has earned recognition as the Best Overall Diet, according to U.S. News & World Report. In 2024, it was also ranked as the #1 Best Heart-Healthy Diet, Best Diet for Bone and Joint Health, Best Diet for Diabetes, and Best Diet for Healthy Eating.

Multiple scientific studies have found that people who follow a Mediterranean diet have better measures of blood pressure and glycemic control and reduced risks of various chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, kidney disease, lung disease, Parkinson's disease, cancer, cognitive diseases, memory loss, depression as well as metabolic syndrome, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

So, what is a Mediterranean diet?

Based on the traditional cuisines of Greece, Italy, and other countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, the Mediterranean Diet encourages the consumption of fresh, seasonal, and local foods. 

  • A High Intake of plant-based foods: fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, beans and other legumes, whole grains, olive oil, nuts, herbs and spices.
  • A Moderate Intake of fish, poultry, and wine.
  • And a Low Intake of dairy products (mostly yogurt and cheese), red and processed meats, and sweets.

The heart of this diet is:

  • A primarily plant-based eating plan encouraging daily intake.
  • Animal protein is eaten in smaller quantities, with fish as the preferred choice at least twice weekly.
  • Other animal proteins like poultry, eggs, and dairy (cheese or yogurt) are included in smaller portions daily or a few times a week.
  • Red meat is limited to a few times per month.
  • Olive oil is the primary added fat, replacing other oils and fats. Other healthful fats are found in foods such as avocados, nuts, and oily fish like salmon and sardines.
  • Water is the main daily beverage, with a moderate intake of wine with meals (about one to two glasses a day for men and one glass a day for women).
  • Daily physical activity and enjoying meals with others are a cornerstone of this diet.

This really drives home the idea that social and cultural aspects, like communal or shared eating practices, lengthy mealtimes, resting after eating, and regular physical activity, are key features of a Mediterranean lifestyle.

So put the Mediterranean diet to the test and savor the benefits!

For a useful graphic reference, check out the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid created by the Harvard School of Public Health, Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust, and the World Health Organization: Link

• Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Diet Review: Mediterranean Diet Link
• JAMA Network, Mediterranean Diet and Age-Related Cognitive Decline. Link
• Eufic, The Mediterranean diet. Link
• Global Wellness Institute, Nutritional Counseling Spotlight. Link

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