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  • Writer's pictureLisa Smith

Why Is The Mediterranean Diet So Popular?

Updated: Jan 23

3 blue bowls with salad and a blue cloth with a plant

Is The Mediterranean Diet Healthy?

The Mediterranean diet has gained a lot of attention in recent years for it’s numerous health benefits. This diet is inspired by the traditional eating habits of people living in the Mediterranean region, which includes countries such as Greece, Italy and Spain.

The Mediterranean Diet and Longevity

The traditional diet is known for being rich in fruits and vegetables, lean proteins. whole grains and healthy fats. It has strong cultural significance and is often associated with longevity and the relaxed and leisurely lifestyles of Mediterranean countries. In modern times this diet has mostly been replaced by the western style diets and ultra processed foods for convenience.

Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

It has gained popularity in recent years. This is due to it’s accessibility and numerous health benefits proven by research, including improved heart health, gut health and weight management, as well as cancer and diabetes prevention.

A more recent study concluded that, although further research is needed, following this diet also seems to be linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease. A Mediterranean diet does not eliminate food groups. It is easy to follow and can be adapted and personalised depending on your aims and nutritional requirements.

The Mediterranean Diet and Heart Health

The diet includes many nutrient rich foods that are essential for maintaining good health. It emphasises fresh fruits and vegetables which are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These nutrients help to protect against chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

What Foods are Included in a Mediterranean Diet?

A well formulated traditional Mediterranean diet also includes quality lean proteins such as fish, poultry and legumes which are high in protein and low in saturated fat. Whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa are also a staple of the Mediterranean diet and are an excellent source of fibre which helps to promote digestive health.

Why is the Mediterranean Diet Healthy?

1. Heart Healthy Fats: The Mediterranean diet is rich in healthy fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are beneficial for heart health. Healthy fats can be found in foods like olive oil, nuts , seeds and fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel. These healthy fats have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease.

2. Weight Management: This way of eating is also beneficial for weight management. It is rich in fibre and protein which help to promote feelings of fullness and satisfaction. The diet also emphasises whole, natural foods and limits processed foods, which can be high in calories and low in nutrients. Additionally, it is not a restrictive diet and includes a wide variety of delicious foods. Making it a sustainable way of eating long term.

3. Diabetes Prevention: The Mediterranean diet may also help to prevent type 2 diabetes as it is low in sugar and emphasises whole, natural foods. A study conducted in 2014 found that following a Mediterranean style diet was associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to a low fat diet.

Mediterranean Diet Meal Ideas

3 bowls of food on a wooden chopping board

Healthy Recipe Ideas for the Mediterranean Diet

Breakfast Ideas

Greek yoghurt with fresh berries and a sprinkle of granola, nuts and seeds. Greek yoghurt is a good source of protein, fresh berries are high in antioxidants and fibre. Granola, nuts and seeds are also high in nutrients, healthy fats and fibre.

Rye bread toast with avocado and poached egg. Rye bread is a good source of wholegrains, fibre and carbohydrates. Avocado is rich in heart healthy fats and fibre. Eggs are rich in protein and nutrients.

Spinach and feta omelette with rye toast which provides a variety of nutrients including vitamin C, iron, magnesium and calcium. A good source of protein is provided by the eggs with carbohydrates and fibre from the rye toast.

Lunch Ideas

A satisfying nutritious lunch option with lean protein would be a mixed salad with green leaves, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, olives, feta cheese and grilled chicken or cooked prawns.

Wholegrain pitta stuffed with hummus, roasted vegetables and falafel which contains protein, fibre and carbohydrates.

Quinoa salad with chickpeas or lentils, chopped vegetables, pumpkin seeds and an olive oil dressing. This is also a good source of protein from the lentils and chickpeas and healthy fats from pumpkin seeds and olive oil and carbohydrates from the quinoa.

Dinner Ideas

Grilled salmon or chicken with a side of roasted vegetables and wholegrains such as brown rice, buckwheat or quinoa.

Roast chicken with lemon juice, garlic and herbs with a side dish of couscous and a Greek salad. Made with fresh vegetables and feta cheese.

Personalised Nutrition for Health

These are just a few examples of healthy, delicious meals that you can enjoy as part of the traditional Mediterranean diet. The key is to focus on whole, natural foods. Avoid processed foods and incorporate a wide variety of nutrient dense foods into your meals, which also supports gut health. Look at the other nutritious and delicious recipes on my blog for more healthy meal ideas.

How to Start the Mediterranean Diet

You can improve your overall health and reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases by following this diet pattern. A Nutritional Therapist can help you adapt the Mediterranean diet for your individual needs. This helps to ensure you are getting optimal nutrients to fuel your body correctly for healthy ageing.

Lisa is a BANT registered nutritional therapist, specialising in online nutrition programmes for metabolic health and weight loss designed for women in midlife. Discover the power of personalised nutrition for your health and weight loss. Book a free health review to find out more. Lisa works online with women all over the UK & Europe.

Note: This blog post is meant for informational purposes only and should not replace personalised advice.


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