The Mediterranean diet is a diet inspired by the eating habits of Spain, Italy, and Greece in the 1960s. The principal aspects of this diet include proportionally high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of non-fish meat products.
Olive oil has been studied as a potential health factor for reducing all-cause mortality and the risk of chronic diseases. There is some evidence that the Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of heart disease and early death. The American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association recommend the Mediterranean diet as a healthy dietary pattern that may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes, respectively. The Mediterranean diet may help with weight loss in obese people.
There are variations of the Mediterranean diets in different countries and among the individual populations of the Mediterranean basin, due to ethnic, cultural, economic and religious diversities. It typically includes:
1. A high intake of olive oil as the principal source of fat, vegetables (including leafy green vegetables, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and peppers), fresh fruits (consumed as desserts or snacks), cereals (mostly whole grains), nuts, and legumes.
2. A moderate intake of fish and other seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products (principally cheese and yogurt), and red wine.
3. Low intakes of red meat, processed meat, refined carbohydrates, and sweets.