Mediterranean Lifestyle: What’s It All About?

“One of the healthiest diets scientists have been ever been able to identify.” Subjects have the least disease and live the longest.

It’s Origins

The Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle that reflects the eating patterns of Greece and Southern Italy during the 1960’s.

Dr. Ancel Keys is referred to as the “father of the Mediterranean Diet”. He performed a seven country study wIMG_2802here life expectancy in these countries was among the highest in the world. Heart Disease, chronic diseases, certain cancers were the lowest in the world in spite of limited medical services. Similar dietary patterns in other countries were associated with long life expectancy and low rates of chronic disease.

This was after WWII when they ate a healthy diet without knowing it out of necessity, because they were poor and these foods were easily accessible.

This was their lifestyle:IMG_2812

  • Meals are meant to be enjoyed together as a family
  • ¬†They grew fruits and vegetables
  • Fished from the sea
  • Grew olives and made olive oil
  • Made wine from grapes they grew
  • Collected eggs from their chickens
  • Made their own bread
  • Meat and dairy was in short supply
  • Picked walnuts
  • Walked daily
  • Ate local, unprocessed foods
  • Fruit for dessertDSC00733

Benefits Shown

What types of conditions benefit from this dietary lifestyle? Studies have shown that any condition related to arteries or veins benefit greatly, such as heart attack and stroke. Other diseases you may be protected from are

  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s
  • arthritis
  • obesity
  • protects at various levels for certain types of cancer
  • all symptoms of metabolic syndrome
  • protects neurons, preserve cognitive function
  • lowers depression
  • cut risk of endometrial cancer.



daily– eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, nuts, seeds, lowfat dairy

weekly– fish, legumes, poultry, eggs, lean unprocessed meats

monthly– saturated fats, refined carbs, sweets



lifestyle– daily physical activity, weight control, community, sunshine and sleep

reduce stress – enjoy meals with family, relax, nap

Key Elements

What makes this lifestyle healthy?

Little processing– processing cuts out the good stuff and adds bad unhealthy fats, sugars and chemicals. Eat little to no processed foods.

Healthy fats

  • Olive oil– a monounsaturated fat, not prone to oxidation. Contains large amounts of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Reduces amount of LDL in the blood.
  • Omega 3– Your bIMG_2799ody doesn’t make “essential” fats. (sources-nuts, avocado, fish) Less likely to form clots in arteries, improves cholesterol and prevents erratic heart rhythms.
  • Omega 6-Helps regulate blood pressure as well as heart, gastrointestinal and kidney function. Don’t over do it. We tend to get too much omega 6. Limit by reducing process foods.

Protein– Fish, lean meats and from plant sources which, by the way, also contain fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Whole grains– Grains are composed of bran (outershell-has fiber, vitamins and minerals), germ- (inner core- has antioxidants) and endosperm (carbs). When grains are processed they only leaves the endosperm. . Whole grains help you stay full longer and prevents blood sugar spikes which in turn prevents weight problems, diabetes and heart disease.

Fiber– Fiber reduces cholesterol, blood sugar, regulates bowls and helps you stay full longer. It helps reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, diverticulitus, ibs and some cancers.

Antioxidants -absorb free radicals and prevent oxidative stress. Vitamins A, C, and E are antioxidants.

Vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients– Healthy foods are loaded with these. Better to get it from your food than supplements, because foods contain many nutrients that haven’t even been discovered yet.

Legumes– These are the best source of plant protein. beans, peas, lentil, soybeans contain fiber, calcium, iron, B vitamins, complex carbs. They aide in weight control.IMG_2801

Nuts – contain protein, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, antioxidants

Red wine– 1 glass at 1 meal per day. Can raise your HDL, reduce blood clots, inflammation, lower cardiovascular risk.

Your Plate

Generally, your plate should consist of 50% non-starchy vegetables, 25% protein and 25% starchy vegetables or whole grains.


Some people should not have any alcohol due to health issues and medications.

The guideline amounts tend to be vague like “low” “high” “small amounts”. Does not give specifics.


People may focus only on the food and forget the lifestyle. Also includes physical activity and social interaction for wellness.

Make sure your olive oil is real.



Acquista, Angelo MD. The Mediterranean Family Table.

Ozner, Michael MD. The Complete Mediterranean Diet.

Mediterranean diet and prevention of coronary heart disease in the elderly.

Mediterranean diet and weight loss: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Mediterranean diet could reduce risk of endometrial cancer.

Mediteranean-style diet may protect against brain aging.

Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet.

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