As you start looking into changing your eating habits, you’ll see a lot about adding more colorful fruits and vegetables, along with healthy grains, to your diet. The benefits of doing so are numerous, and there’s one diet in particular that aims to help you consume more of these healthful foods: the Mediterranean diet. This diet incorporates common foods from several regions, including Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal.
Some studies suggest that following the Mediterranean diet can potentially lower the risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Some of the diet's key ingredients include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, oily fish and unsaturated fats. You’ll also have less meat and refined sugar. Learn more about this diet, including what else you’ll eat, how it can help you and what alternatives exist.
What Is the Mediterranean Diet?
The inspiration for the Mediterranean diet comes from the eating habits and available foods in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. With more than 16 countries on the list, each of which has its own culture, ethnic backgrounds, geography and agricultural resources, it's no wonder that the Mediterranean diet is varied. But, those regions also have a lot in common, which is why there are some boundaries in this way of eating.
The Mediterranean diet is primarily plant-based and encourages a daily intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, herbs, spices and healthier fats like olive oil. Even healthier animal proteins, particularly fish and shellfish, are consumed in smaller quantities. You’ll eat fewer dairy products and red meats. This diet recommends consuming fish twice a week but only eating red meat a few times each month. You’ll eat smaller portions of poultry, eggs and yogurt or cheese once every few days.