What Is a Mediterranean Diet?
“The Mediterranean Diet is a lifestyle where good taste meets good health,” says Sara Baer-Sinnott, president of Oldways, the nonprofit food and nutrition group that first introduced the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid in 1993.
There is no single Mediterranean diet. Instead, each region across Europe — from Spain to the Middle East — customizes the basic diet to take advantage of food availability and cultural preferences.
Similarities include a reliance on plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, olives, and olive oil along with some cheese, yogurt, fish, poultry, eggs, and wine. These foods form the basis of the plan and provide thousands of micronutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber that work together to protect against chronic disease.
Most of the foods on the plan are fresh, seasonal whole foods – they’re not processed. Preparation methods tend to be simple; foods are rarely deep-fried.
Only small amounts of saturated fat, sodium, sweets, and meat are part of the plan.
The Mediterranean lifestyle also includes leisurely dining and regular physical activity, which are an important part of the equation.