Trendy Diets Done Right: The Mediterranean Diet

The overview on this more traditional eating plan, including recipes and menus, and advice from a nutritionist

Looking to lose weight or just eat healthier in the New Year? Let us help you weigh the many options out there with our Diets 101 series. Today's diet is the Mediterranean Diet.

The Concept

  • Mimic the simple but sumptuous diet of a third-century Greek fisherman to lose weight, live longer, and lower your risk of heart disease and cancer.

Distinguishing Features

  • Olive oil is the primary source of fat
  • Fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables are the centerpiece of every meal
  • Bread and pasta are served without apology
  • Meat takes a backseat-it's eaten less frequently and in small portions
  • Dinner usually includes a glass of red wine
  • Flagship flavors: basil, oregano, rosemary, lemon, garlic, and mint

This Is Your Diet If...

  • You're a carb lover
  • You enjoy a glass of wine with dinner
  • You like fresh ingredients, simply prepared
  • You appreciate quality rather than quantity
  • You're concerned about heart health

Probably Not for You If...

  • You're in the market for a high-protein or low-fat diet
  • You're a big meat-lover
  • You thrive on culinary variety

Our Assessment

The emphasis on fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and legumes make for a nutrient-rich, high-fiber diet (read: you won't be hungry). The Mediterranean way of eating is also relatively low in protein and saturated fat. Cheese or yogurt may be enjoyed daily, while eggs, fish, and meat (in particular veal and lamb) may be served only once or twice a week.

Another distinguishing factor of a Mediterranean-style diet is that it can be quite high in fat (35 to 40 percent of your calories). But the focus is on healthy fats-in particular, monounsaturated fats (from olives, nuts, and avocados) and omega-3 fatty acids (from fish, flax, and nuts). Although high in calories, fat makes food tastier and meals more satisfying. The idea here is that you eat less-but enjoy it more. This is borne out by research suggesting that people who eat diets high in monounsaturated fats stay slim despite the higher fat content.

The Mediterranean lifestyle plays an important supporting role to the diet plan. Lots of physical activity, fresh air, and relaxed, leisurely meals enjoyed with family and friends are part of the prescription.


A Day on the Mediterranean Diet




More Great Mediterranean Diet Recipes

Books on the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet
by Marissa Cloutier and Eve Adamson
Cloutier, a registered dietitian, keeps it simple by focusing on fresh, wholesome unprocessed foods, simply prepared. This straightforward version of the basic principles is less of a weight-loss program and more of a lifestyle makeover (which can also help you lose weight).

The Sonoma Diet and The Sonoma Diet Cookbook
by Connie Guttersen, Ph.D.
On the Napa Valley version of the Mediterranean diet, you'll savor flavor-packed but portion-controlled meals of fresh, unprocessed foods. As is customary these days, the program starts with a very restrictive ten-day induction phase, which gradually relaxes into the familiar Mediterranean regimen-complete with a daily glass of red wine.

The Omega Diet
by Artemis Simopoulos, M.D., and Jo Robinson
Greek-born Simopoulos is an international authority on essential fatty acids. Her take on the Mediterranean diet (which includes a diet plan and recipes) places a special emphasis on eating the right fats and avoiding damaging ones.

By Monica Reinagel

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