The Mediterranean Diet
A total diet and lifestyle approach continues to be one of the best prescriptions for a long, healthy life.
Level of Effort: Low to Medium
It's a tasty and good for you, though you may have a learning curve at first.
Limitations: Few. The Mediterranean diet allows plenty of variety and experimentation.
Cooking and shopping: Simplify by planning your meals in advance; keeping pantry staples like olive oil, canned tomatoes, whole grains, pasta, and tuna on hand; and shopping for fresh produce and seafood a few times a week. You can easily grill or broil many Mediterranean diet foods.
Snacks can be quick and easy, too: Grab a clementine or a handful of nuts, or dip whole wheat pita chips into hummus.
Packaged foods or meals? None.The diet emphasizes fresh foods.
In-person meetings? No.
Exercise: Being active every day is part of the lifestyle.
Is It Good for Health Conditions?
Besides helping your heart and improving your cholesterol, the diet may help lower your odds of getting Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis, and depression.
Of course, many other things also affect your health, including your genes, how active you are, and whether you smoke. There's more to it than what you eat.
Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?
Vegetarians and vegans: Sticking with fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds is a snap for vegetarians. If you're vegan, you'd need to skip the dairy products.
Low-sodium diet: You’ll rely on herbs and spices for flavor instead of salt, which helps if you’re looking for a low-sodium diet.
Low-fat diet: The Mediterranean diet doesn’t qualify as a low-fat diet. But it is low in saturated fat and is well within the American Heart Association’s guidelines.
Gluten-free? If you're avoiding gluten, you can choose grains without gluten.
What Else You Should Know
If you’re looking for a long-term lifestyle change, this can be a fun and realistic way to do it. You can be creative, approach your food in a new way, and enjoy the foods you like in moderation.
Costs: None beyond your shopping.
Support: There are many books and online articles about the Mediterranean diet, but no official groups.