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The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional eating patterns of peoples in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Rather than focusing only on food, it is based on a healthy lifestyle that emphasizes healthy eating, being physically active, and enjoying meals with friends and family.

Characteristics of the Mediterranean diet:
• Consuming a variety of plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
• Replacing butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil (an important monounsaturated fat source), and limiting other sources of saturated fats (red meats, cream, etc.)
• Using herbs and spices instead of salt and sugar to flavor foods
• Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
• Substituting fish and poultry for red meat
• Switching to skim milk, fat-free yogurt, and low-fat cheesemedit-diet-pyramid
• Drinking red wine in moderation (optional, and in low-to-moderate amounts)
• Being physically active
• Enjoying meals with family and friends

Benefits of the Mediterranean diet:
Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease and lowers the death rate in populations. A study involving 1.5 million healthy adults indicated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a significant improvement in health, including a significant reduction in the overall illness and death rate from cardiovascular disease and cancer, and had a protective effect on Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases (Adherence to Mediterranean diet and health status).

The Mediterranean diet is more of a way of life than a fad regimen that restricts your food intake. You don’t need special supplies or expensive equipment to start. For more information on the Mediterranean diet, please visit:

American Heart Association
Mayo Clinic
Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

By Lisa Cui and Cynthia Taft Bayerl
Lisa is a student in the Master of Science in Nutrition program at Boston University, and Cynthia (RD MS LDN), is the Nutrition Coordinator for the Division of Prevention and Wellness at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.






Written By:

Ted works in communications for the Division of Prevention and Wellness at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

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