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What is Mediterranean Diet?

In the United States, poor diet is the leading cause of death, causing more harmful impact on heath than smoking, high blood pressure and obesity. Research shows a strong link between dietary components and eating patterns and health outcomes. In addition, clinicians view eating habits as a very important part of healthy lifestyle counseling. The most known and most studied type of diet is the Mediterranean diet.

Mediterranean diet is typically high in:

1- Vegetables,

2- Fruits,

3- Whole grain,

4- Nuts,

5- Seeds and

6- Beans.

It also includes olive oil as an important source of monounsaturated fat and allows low to moderate wine consumption. It also includes low to moderate amounts of fish, poultry, dairy products, and little red meat.

In a large trial conducted in Spain and published this year, with over 1000 adults with coronary heart disease, the CARDIOPREV trial showed that randomization to a Mediterranean diet resulted in lower incidence of heart attacks, coronary stenting and bypass surgery, stroke, peripheral vascular disease and cardiovascular death, compared with a low-fat diet at seven years follow-up. A Mediterranean diet was also shown in observational studies to be associated with lower overall mortality and cardiovascular mortality, as well as a decreased incidence of Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, and cancers such as colorectal, prostate, oropharyngeal, and breast cancers.

Mediterranean-style eating was incorporated into the recent update of an American Heart Association tool for evaluating heart health. The tool, Life's Essential 8, produces a score based on eight measured assessments. These include:

1- Diet. Mediterranean diet style included.

2- Physical activity. Adults should get 2 ½ hours of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. Kids should have 60 minutes every day, including play and structured activities.

3- Tobacco smoking or exposure. This includes traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vaping.

4- Healthy Sleep. Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

5- Healthy body weight. Body mass index (BMI), a numerical value of your weight in relation to your height, is a useful gauge. Optimal BMI is 25.

6- Controlled cholesterol level. High levels of non-HDL, or “bad,” cholesterol can lead to heart disease.

7- Controlled blood glucose. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose that our bodies use as energy. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.

8- Controlled blood pressure. Keeping your blood pressure within acceptable ranges can keep you healthier longer.

Although Mediterranean diet has several health benefits, it is unclear whether a single component of the Mediterranean diet is associated with the protective benefit or whether the benefit is from a combination of effects.

It has to be mentioned that diet is not the only part of Mediterranean living that is important for heart health. Mediterranean diet is associated with a lifestyle that include exercise and an abundance of activities.

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