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Here’s why the Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest diets in the world.

If you’re looking to increase the healthfulness of your diet, you may want to follow the principles of the Mediterranean diet. This popular style of eating has been ranked as the healthiest diet for the seventh year in a row by U.S. News & World Reports. A panel of leading medical and nutrition experts evaluate a variety of diets each year and rank them based on factors such as the nutritional value they offer, how easy they are to follow and how sustainable they are over the long term. They also consider any related health risks and benefits.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

This style of eating does not follow a stringent set of rules for what can and cannot be eaten or how much should be consumed. Rather, it is similar to the traditional eating habits of countries in the Mediterranean region, including Italy, Greece, Spain, Croatia, Turkey and Morocco.

The diet encourages eating a variety of whole unprocessed plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes. It also allows for the consumption of healthy fats, especially olive oil. Seafood is typically eaten at least twice a week. Poultry, eggs, cheese, yogurt and red wine can be consumed in moderation. Red meats, sweets and processed foods should be limited or avoided. The Mediterranean diet also encourages people to take the time to enjoy meals with friends and loved ones.

Can you lose weight on the Mediterranean diet?

It is possible to lose weight when following this style of eating, but as with any type of diet focused on weight loss, you need to watch portion sizes. Although healthy, some foods that are an integral part of the Mediterranean diet, such as olive oil, nuts, cheese and pasta, contain a lot of calories so they can impede your weight loss if you overdo it.

What are the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet?

This diet has been researched extensively and results have shown that it may not only help people lose weight, but it may also improve heart health, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and slow cognitive decline. Since the diet focuses on a variety of whole unprocessed foods, it contains a balance of healthy carbs, protein and fat that provides the body with what it needs to run optimally. It also leaves little room for the saturated fat, added sugars and sodium that is a hallmark of the standard American diet.

Why is the Mediterranean Diet easy to follow?

By including a variety of whole unprocessed foods, followers of this diet can fill up on delicious and nutritious foods, including gut-filling fiber, protein and healthy fats, that help keep hunger at bay. There are no limits on the quantities of food eaten and no strict restrictions on what can be consumed.

In contrast, diets that ban specific foods or severely restrict calories can be difficult to follow. They may cause people to fall short on certain nutrients and may leave them feeling hungry and craving the foods they’re avoiding. While these types of diets may work in the short term if you are looking to lose weight, they are often not sustainable for a long time.

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Date Last Reviewed: January 16, 2024

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Jane Schwartz, RDN, CLT

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