What Is the Mediterranean Diet?

How to Follow This Diet

The Mediterranean diet claims that this form of healthy eating is all about making some simple but significant changes in the way you eat.
Some of these simple changes include eating a lot of vegetables -- basically half your plate at lunch and dinner. The Mediterranean diet is full of salads topped with all sorts of veggies, crumbled feta cheese, and drizzled with olive oil. Other possible ways to include veggies may be to add them to soups, pizzas, or stews.
The Mediterranean diet also calls for changing the way you think about meat. If you do eat meat, eat it in small amounts. If you want red meat, try adding small strips of it as a garnish to a pasta dish. If you want chicken or another lean meat as an entrée, try opting for three ounces or less.
Never skip breakfast! This is important. This plan claims that starting your day with foods rich in fiber, such as whole grains and fruit, can help you to stay hunger free for hours.
The Mediterranean diet recommends that you plan at least one meal a week that is vegetarian. This includes whole grains, beans, and vegetables.
When using fat while you are cooking, make sure to choose good sources of healthy fats, such as extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and olives.
When it comes to dessert, opt for fresh fruits such as pomegranates, grapes, or apples. Try to save the ice cream and cookies for a special occasion.

How Does the Mediterranean Diet Compare to the American Diet?

Although the Mediterranean diet seems close to American dietary recommendations, they aren't exactly the same. The American Heart Association (AHA) has stated that the people who follow the Mediterranean diet eat less saturated fat than those who eat the average American diet. While the saturated fat consumption of the Mediterranean diet falls well within the dietary guidelines of the AHA, the food eaten as part of the Mediterranean diet often contains a relatively high percentage of calories from fat.
Compared to the United States, the rate of heart disease in Mediterranean countries is lower and death rates are lower too. However, it is not known whether this is due to diet or lifestyle factors, such as more physical activity and extended social support systems.
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