The Mediterranean diet is difficult to pinpoint in a single definition. Generally, it is known to be a “healthier” diet and has been related to low levels of blood cholesterol and heart disease.
The Mediterranean Sea touches three continents, twenty-one countries, and spans across a variety of cultures. Each of these areas has the ability to grow different crops, raise different animals, and has different cultural food norms. This makes categorizing one specific diet a challenge, as there is such a variety of ways to eat in the Mediterranean style.
Professionals have compiled a list of factors that apply generally to how everyone in the region eats, but leaves room for variability, while still staying true to the core values. The list is as follows:
- abundance of plant-based foods
- emphasis on minimally-processed, fresh foods
- olive oil = principle fat
- small amounts of dairy daily
- fish, poultry, and eggs in low-moderate amounts
- low intake of red meats (complete removal could cause elimination of good iron sources)
- regular physical activity
- wine in moderation
- enjoyment of food and sharing of meals
The Mediterranean diet is also known to have a particular palatability (I can attest to that), and is relatively economic. So if you’re looking to lose some weight or just to improve your health on the whole, many dietitians across the globe recommend this diet.