Why you should follow the Mediterranean ‘diet’ – and how to do it

Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based private-practice dietitian, is director of Food and Nutrition at Medcan.

No doubt you’ve heard about the Mediterranean diet. It’s long been reported to be the optimal eating plan for preventing a wide range of diseases including heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

If you’re wondering, though, if trendy new diets such as the keto diet, for instance, are a newer, better option than the Mediterranean diet, the answer is a definitive no.

The latest resounding endorsement for the well-researched Mediterranean diet came from a panel of 25 esteemed researchers, doctors and dietitians who recently ranked it the best “overall” diet for 2018. (The low-carb, high-fat keto diet tied for last place as Best Diet Overall.)

The panel scrutinized 40 popular diets to determine the best in nine categories, including heart health, diabetes prevention and weight loss.

The Mediterranean diet received more than one accolade. It was also named the number one plant-based diet, the best diet for healthy eating, for heart disease and for diabetes, and the easiest diet to follow (there’s no formal plan or tracking).

The diet is nutritionally complete, safe, helps promote weight loss and can prevent and manage heart disease and diabetes.

What does the Mediterranean diet look like?

The Mediterranean “diet” is an eating pattern traditionally followed by people living in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea including Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Libya.

Eating this way means including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, pulses (e.g., beans and lentils), nuts and seeds in your diet every day. The main source of fat is olive oil, high in monounsaturated fat and a good source of vitamin E and anti-inflammatory compounds.

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