You should start eating Mediterranean diet for better health

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In the previous blog on The Blue Zones, we talked about 5 places that have the most number of healthy centenarians. People in Ikaria and Sardinia follow the Mediterranean diet, while the other 3 places follow diets that are closely resembling Mediterranean diet (people in Loma Linda are mostly following vegetarian diet).


Mediterranean diet is a diet based on the traditional cuisines in the regions of Greece, Italy and other countries around the Mediterranean Sea. Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy diet plan. Started in the 50’s, it was noted that the incident of heart disease was relatively rare in the regions.


What does Mediterranean diet include?

Mediterranean diet focuses mainly on plant-based foods that include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices.

  • Vegetables (3 servings per day): tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, brussels sprouts, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips.
  • Fruits (3 servings per day): apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches.
  • Whole grains: barley, farro, couscous, oats, bulgur, brown rice, rye, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat bread and pasta.
  • Legumes (3 servings per week): beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas.
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almond butter, peanut butter.
  • Herbs and spices: garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper.

Extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, avocado oil, nuts and seeds are the source of monounsaturated fat, which lowers total and LDL cholesterol levels.


Fatty fish (3 servings per week) includes mackerel, herring, trout, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels. These are the source of omega-3 fatty acids (polyunsaturated fat) that decrease triglycerides, fight inflammation, reduce blood clotting, and lower the risk of stroke and heart failure.

Vegetables, olive oil, and fish

Other foods that are usually eaten in low to moderate amounts are such as lean poultry (chicken, duck, turkey), eggs, and dairy (cheese, low-fat yogurt, milk).


What about beverages?

  • Water Water is the basic and common drink in Mediterranean diet (and everywhere else). It helps to keep your body hydrated and functional.
  • Red wine Red wine is only consumed in moderation (around 1 glass a day), taken together with meals. Drinking red wine can reduce the risk of heart disease. However, it is worth noting that, if you do not already drink, wine is not a must.
  • Coffee and tea In Mediterranean diet, coffee and tea are also common. However, it is only healthy to drink without adding lots of sugar and cream.
Red wine for good health

What should be avoided in Mediterranean diet?

As mentioned, fish, seafood, dairy products, and poultry are consumed in low or moderation. While there are some foods that are mostly avoided in Mediterranean diet.

  • Red meat: beef, lamb and mutton, pork, veal, venison, goat.
  • Added sugar: soda, candies, ice cream, table sugar, syrup, baked goods, sugary beverages and desserts, candy.
  • Refined grains: white bread, pasta, tortillas, chips, crackers, other products made from white flour.
  • Trans fats: margarine, fried foods, other processed foods.
  • Refined oils (processed, or hydrogenated oils): soybean oil, safflower oil, canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, grapeseed oil, vegetable oil, hydrogenated oil.
  • Processed meat: processed sausages, hot dogs, deli meats, beef jerky, bacon, luncheon meat.
  • Highly processed foods: fast food, convenience meals, microwave popcorn, granola bars, instant noodles, processed cheese.

What are the health benefits of eating Mediterranean diet?

Extensive studies have been done on the health benefits of Mediterranean diet. Through the manifestation of the health effects listed below, it is not surprising that this diet plan can help you live longer with little to none adverse health outcome.

  • Promote healthier heart: This diet plan is well-established in lowering total and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), reduce the occurrence of strokes and heart diseases.
  • Reduce risk of certain cancers: Studies reported that Mediterranean diet is correlated with lower risk of breast, colon, prostate, head and neck cancers.
  • Reduce risk of type 2 diabetes: This diet also supports healthy blood sugar levels, reduce cardiovascular disease.
  • Protect brain function and lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases: It is documented that Mediterranean diet can slow down cognitive decline, lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.
  • Lower oesteoarthritis complications: Mediterranean diet also found to have anti-inflammatory properties, hence reduce the complications caused by oesteoarthritis.
  • Lower the risk of depression: Studies show that high veggies and fruits diet can reduce risk of depression by 20%.
  • Altered the gut microbiome: Mediterranean diet is also found to reshape gut microbiota, which improve blood sugar, control cholesterol levels, lower body weight, strengthen immunity, and prevent other disorders. 


Cultivating healthy eating habits must start from nuclear family units. Children growing up in the families under the positive influence will be more receptive to healthy habits and lifestyle when grow up.


However, it is important to note that eating Mediterranean diet alone is never suffice to warrant good health and longevity. In fact, what we learn from Ikaria and Sardinia in the Blue Zones, the people also incorporate physical activities, stress management, sufficient rest, etc. in their lifestyle.


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