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In the 1950s, studies found that adults living in the Mediterranean (Crete, part of Greece, Southern Italy, and other countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea) were living longer than people in other parts of the world. They also found that the rates of coronary artery disease (CAD), some cancers, and other health problems due to diet were low.
Their health did not seem to be because their health services were better. Instead, their dietary patterns were found to be the cause of their good health. These patterns share features that have been linked with low rates of diseases and long lives in many studies done around the world.
Mediterranean people eat:
Americans tend to eat:
Unlike the American diet, the Mediterranean diet is high in fiber and low in saturated fat. It is not low in total fat. But, the types of fats in it are healthy monounsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil. These fats do not raise cholesterol.
The pyramid is arranged this way:
Water and wine are on the side of the pyramid. Drink plenty of water. Limit wine to 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women.
Eating this way may:
Other things can also affect these benefits, such as lifestyle factors or the environment.
Here are some tips to help you get started eating this way:
This diet is a healthful and pleasing change from the foods most Americans eat. But other habits are just as important, such as exercising and having a strong social support system.
The American Heart Association
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
Dietitians of Canada
Mediterranean diet. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/management/mediterranean-diet. Updated January 21, 2020. Accessed February 12, 2020.
Mediterranean diet. American Heart Association website. Available at https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/mediterranean-diet. Updated January 9, 2020. Accessed February 12, 2020.
Last reviewed November 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN Last Updated: 2/3/2021