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The Mediterranean Diet-- Why Is It So Popular?

Updated on September 1, 2014

Mediterranean Diet

Knowing about all your different diet options can help you decide which one is the right one for you. Keep in mind that the reason a diet becomes popular such as this Mediterranean Diet is because it is tested and proven to work, and is used by many people around the world.

Looking for a healthier plan of eating? One diet incorporating healthy eating basics is the Mediterranean Diet. The best part is that you get to indulge in a glass of wine and a splash of your favorite olive oil flavour with your meals. These are components that are characteristic of countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea.

Many healthy diets include whole grain, fish, vegetables, fruits and limited unhealthy fat. While these are tried and true parts of a healthy diet, there are subtle differences or variation in proportion of specific foods that lower your risks of heart disease.

It is recommended by the American Dietary Guidelines that this diet prevents disease and promotes health. Studies show that the Mediterranean traditional diet reduces heart disease risks. Over 1.5million healthy adults were analyzed and they demonstrated that following this diet was associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and a reduced risk of death from cancer and heart disease.

A modern recommendation of nutrition, the Mediterranean Diet is inspired originally by dietary traditional patterns of Spain, Southern Italy and Greece. When it comes to this diet, the main aspects include a relatively high olive oil consumption including vegetables, fruits, unrefined cereal and legumes. Also included are a relatively medium consumption of dairy products and a high consumption of fish. The dairy products consist mainly of yogurt and cheese, low consumptions of meat products and moderate consumption of wine.

It was recognized by UNESCO on the fourth of December 2013 in its Baku meeting that this was an Italy Intangible Cultural heritage diet pattern and includes Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Morocco, Spain and Portugal.

Regardless of Its Name this is diet is not usual in terms of the cuisine of the Mediterranean. For instance in Northern Italy, butter and lard are used commonly for dishes. Also, when it came to cooked vegetables and dressing salads, olive oil is used. In both the Middle East and North Africa, samna, which is rendered butter and tail fat of a sheep, is the tradition fat staple.

Effects on Health

In a ten year study done over a period of ten years, a healthy life style and adherence to the Mediterranean diet was seen to reduce the risks of early rates of death. Seven thousand, four hundred and forty-seven people had been in a study for five years. The reports of the people were there were reduced risks of heart disease when they were on the Mediterranean diet. The people in the study with a high heart disease risk of up to thirty per cent had reduced heart disease compared to those just on a diet low in fat.

In the year two thousand eleven a review done systematically found that this particular diet seemed to work much more effectively compared to diets low in fact in creating changes for the long terms in terms of risk factors to cardiovascular health such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.

Part of the reason that benefits of health are something many cultures in the Mediterranean enjoy is mainly due to diet. Aside from being a healthy environment, a notably healthy lifestyle that includes high physical activity also benefits. On the level of the population, however, there is minimal genetic influence since it has been shown that the Mediterranean population’s changing lifestyle to one not so healthy from one that in the past was quite healthy and active has occurred. These days, the Western pattern diet influence, a less physically active lifestyle, notable increases in cardiovascular disease is the norm. In healthy middle aged adults, there is an inverse association between incidence of non fatal and fatal heart disease and Mediterranean diet adherence.

Attention has been given by the populace to many different diets. However, when it comes to health benefits, the strongest evidence in terms of a decrease in mortality and good health benefits after switching to a diet based largely on plant health comes from studies done on diets like this one.

There is a high content of salt in the Mediterranean diet. Food such as salted fish roe, capers, anchovies, salt-cured cheese and olives all contain high salt levels.

Often, the Mediterranean diet is cited for the benefits it gives you for being high in dietary fiber, high in monounsaturated fat and low in saturated fat. One primary explanation is due to the Mediterranean inclusion of olive oil’s health benefits.

Another possible contributing factor is the fact that red wine is included in the diet. Studies show that red wine contains powerful antioxidant-packed flavonoids

French Paradox

First made public by Pioppi and Ancel Keys, two American scientists, this diet did not become popular until the sixties. Also known as the French Paradox, this is a phenomenon that features Mediterranean dwellers consume somewhat high fat amounts but has lowered incidents of diseases of the cardiovascular kind compared to other countries such as the USA, where there are similar consumption of fat.

Dr Walter Willet

School of Public Health of Harvard University’s Dr. Walter Willet had presented the Mediterranean diet in the most understandable way. Reportedly, it is based on the typical food patters of Southern Italy, Greece and Crete. Plus, this diet aside from regular exercising does emphasize olive oil, daily dessert, fish and poultry, yogurt and cheese and up to four eggs each week. Low amounts of red meat and wine were eaten in moderate to low amounts. Calories should consist of only 25 to 35 per cent fat, with only 8 per cent of saturated fat or fewer.

Often, olive oil is thought to be a Mediterranean Diet characteristic. Take note, however that in Israel, Malta and Egypt, there is negligible consumption of olive oil. There are high mono unsaturated fat levels particularly oleic acid which studies of epidemiology state might be connected to reducing risks of coronary disease of the heart.


For many years, there have been debates about alcohol consumption. There is reluctance in a few doctors to encourage the consumption of alcohol due to the excessive drinking consequences. However, in moderation, alcohol has been related with reduced heart disease risks in some studies.

Typically, the Mediterranean diet includes moderate red wine amounts daily for all ages of women and men over the age of sixty five. For men who are younger, the recommended daily wine amount is ten ounces. Drinking more than this might cause a health risk increase such as some types of cancer and other health problems.

Refrain from drinking any type of alcohol including red wine if you have liver or heart disease or have a personal/family history of alcohol abuse.

Olive Oil

When it comes to the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is through to be one of its main features. As a matter of fact, it contains oleic acid which reduces the risk of heart disease. Evidences also suggest that olive oil antioxidants also reduce the reduction of cholesterol and regulate cholesterol. It has other effects that include being anti hypertensive and being anti-inflammatory.

Diet Composition

  • There is emphasis placed on the Mediterranean diet on the following:
  • Moderately drinking red wine if you opt to
  • Twice a week eating poultry and fish
  • Red meat is limited to a few times each month
  • Using spices and herbs not more than a few times each month
  • Flavoring food with spices and herbs rather than salt
  • Using olive oil to replace butter

Primarily eating food that is based on plants such as nuts, legumes, whole grain, vegetables and fruits is the basis of this diet. For instance, on average, Greek residents average over 6 servings of vegetables and fruits which are rich in antioxidants. In the region of the Mediterranean, whole grains are typically eaten and do not contain a lot of Trans fat. Nuts are also part of the diet and for the most part, these contain healthy fat. Another important aspect of the Mediterranean diet is that bread plays a big part. It is either dipped in olive oil or eaten plain. It is not eaten with margarine or butter, both of which contain Trans or saturated fats.


At this point most folks are aware of how many studies link lower risks of Alzheimer’s and cancer to Mediterranean diet not to mention a longer life and better heart health. The Mediterranean diet’s building blocks are food groups that happen to be lower in fat that is saturated, packed with fresh vegetables and fruits and rich in healthy oil. What are you supposed to be eating for snacks, dinner, lunch and breakfast exactly? Here are a few recipes that can help you on your way.

Bloody Mary Vinaigrette Skewers

With just one hundred fifty calories and three grams of fat, this is a pretty appetizer or snack that is truly nutritious as well! Quite uncomplicated to make, the best thing about skewers is that you pretty much just gather the ingredients needed. You can use either metal or stick skewers that you can grill strait. You will then have a snack in a flash. All you need to do is to thread together artichoke hearts, grape tomatoes, store-bought cheese and olive and serve with home-made vinaigrette. For the vinaigrette whisk together: two tablespoons olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon hot sauce a fourth of a teaspoon black pepper, a fourth of a teaspoon kosher salt, 1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, two tablespoons premium vodka and half a cup of olive oil. Refrigerate this ‘Bloody Mary’ vinaigrette and serve when the guests arrive, enjoy!

Tuna Mediterranean

If you want to avoid mayo-filled fatty recipes but love tuna salad, this is one recipe you will love. Create a delicious salad of tuna with less than two hundred calories per serving and two grams of fiber. This recipe uses classic ingredients from the Mediterranean like olives, capers and scallions to create bold combinations of flavour. Smooth it over wheat crackers or bread for a healthy lunch. If you don’t want to spend on fresh tuna or if these are hard to find in your area, you can use the canned variety as these pack fatty acids of omega 3 just like the fresh variety.

Pasta Salad a la Mediterranean

When you are looking for a Mediterranean-style pasta salad, the good news is that the starch used in their pasta makes you have a full feeling longer. This helps you burn more than twenty-five per cent more calories. Artichoke hearts and peas taste great together plus this makes a great addition to your daily fiber needs.

For this recipe you will need half a cup frozen peas, a fourth of a cup chopped fresh parsley, a fourth of a cup roasted chopped bell peppers, eight ounces mozzarella cheese, also chopped and a thirteen ounce can of artichoke hearts in water. You will also need two teaspoons olive oil, the juice and zest of 1 lemon and eight ounces of farfalle multigrain. Cook pasta and while this cooks, combine the lemon, olive oil and whisk. Add the parsley, bell pepper, and cheese and artichoke hearts and toss these together. Put the peas in the colander and once the pasta is al dente, drain this over the peas. Once drained, add the peas and pasta to the mixture of artichokes and toss well until combined thoroughly. Serve at room temperature and serve warm.

Panini Creamy

This Panini is Mediterranean style and is vegetable-packed. It is most satisfying and very healthy when you roast peppers, add mayonnaise, olive oil, provolone cheese, zucchini, black olives and basil and put this between two rustic bread pieces. There are not very many other sandwiches that are quite as satisfying! Exchange the mayo for a Greek low-fat yogurt for an even healthier sandwich!


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    • profile image

      Maria H H 

      3 years ago

      Absolutly love the Mediterranean Diet!

      Healthy & Happy Food!

    • elle64 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Scandinavia

      Thankyou MsDora for stopping by

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      I love the Mediterranean diet for its healthy foods. Now that you have presented the research results, I am glad that I do. Thank you very much.


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