The Mediterranean diet has long been billed as a heart-friendly plan to improve health and prevent disease. A new study published in JAMA Network Open says the Mediterranean diet can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by 25 percent.
“The Mediterranean diet is actually a combination of diets that have certain common features,” says Dr. Hensrud.
Olive oil is one of them. It’s a healthier alternative to butter. Herbs and spices replace salt as seasoning. There are lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts, and even some red wine.
“There’s not a lot of processed food,” says Dr. Hensrud. “Meat is a condiment, rather than a staple.”
Fish and poultry could be served a couple times a week, but red meat might only be served a couple times a month. And in this diet, how you eat is as key as what you eat.
“In the Mediterranean region, traditionally people have eaten together as a family, and that’s an important part,” says Dr. Hensrud.
Exercising between these meals is, too.
“So it can have a powerful effect on health,” he says.
But, according to Dr. Hensrud, here’s the rub: “Too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing.”
You still need to watch your total calories — even if they are the healthier ones that come from a Mediterranean meal.