What is the Mediterranean Diet and what are the health benefits?

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

Research has suggested the Mediterranean Diet can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer and with weight loss. The Mediterranean Diet is high in dietary fiber and high in antioxidants.  Key components of the Mediterranean diet emphasizes: Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts; Replacing butter with healthy fats such as extra virgin or virgin olive oil and canola oil (one tablespoon of olive or canola oil has 120 calories); Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods; Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month; Eating fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines and albacore tuna and poultry at least twice a week. Choose lower fat dairy products like skim milk, low-fat or fat-free yogurt and cheese; Drinking red wine in moderation (optional) or drinking purple grape juice. The less processed foods eaten the greater the health benefit. The diet also recognizes the importance of enjoying meals with family and friends and also the importance of exercise.

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N, is a registered dietitian who has been teaching healthy lifestyles strategies to consumers for over 35+ years.

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