Mediterranean-Style Eating Pattern

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Among the myriad of dietary patterns, one stands out for its holistic approach to nourishment: the Mediterranean-style Eating Pattern. More than just a way of eating, it’s a lifestyle rooted in tradition, flavor, and abundant health benefits.

What is the Mediterranean-Style Eating Pattern?

The Mediterranean-style Eating Pattern is inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece, Italy, Spain, and southern France. At its core, this eating pattern emphasizes whole, minimally processed foods, with an abundance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Fish and seafood are consumed regularly, while poultry, eggs, and dairy are enjoyed in moderation. Red meat is limited, and sweets and refined grains are reserved for special occasions.

Numerous studies have highlighted the health benefits of the Mediterranean-style Eating Pattern, linking it to a reduced risk of chronic diseases and improved overall health outcomes:

  • Mounting evidence suggests that the Mediterranean-style Eating Pattern may support cognitive function and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. A prospective cohort study published in Annals of Neurology found that greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline (Scarmeas, et al. 2006).
  • 22 eligible studies revealed that following the Mediterranean-style Eating Pattern was consistently associated with reduced risk of stroke, depression and cognitive impairment. Concurrently, research results also showed cardiovascular risk factors are reduced: lower levels of unhealthy cholesterol as well higher levels of healthy cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and protective association with metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus and possibly obesity (Longeril et al. 1999)

The Mediterranean-style Eating Pattern aligns with the principles of healthy eating recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 to promote health. A Mediterranean style eating pattern can contribute to improved health outcomes, including reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease stroke and certain types of cancer. Individuals looking to adopt a healthy eating pattern may find the principles of the Mediterranean style eating pattern to be a valuable framework for achieving their nutritional goals.

Practical Tips for Embracing the Mediterranean Lifestyle

Transitioning to a Mediterranean-style eating pattern doesn’t have to be daunting. Here are some practical tips to help you incorporate this delicious and nutritious way of eating into your life:

1. Load Up on Plant Foods: Aim to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal. Experiment with a variety of colorful produce to maximize your intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

2. Choose Whole Grains: Opt for whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, barley, and whole wheat bread and pasta. These fiber-rich foods provide sustained energy and promote digestive health.

3. Prioritize Healthy Fats: Use extra-virgin olive oil as your primary fat source for cooking and salad dressings. Incorporate sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, as well as walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.

4. Enjoy Fish Regularly: Aim to include fish and seafood in your meals at least twice a week. Choose oily fish rich in omega-3s, such as salmon, trout, and tuna, for heart-healthy benefits.

5. Limit Red Meat and Processed Foods: While red meat can be enjoyed occasionally, focus on lean protein sources such as poultry, eggs, legumes, and nuts. Minimize intake of processed foods, sugary snacks, and sweetened beverages.

6. Savor Meals Mindfully: Embrace the Mediterranean approach to dining by enjoying meals slowly, savoring each bite, and sharing nourishing food with loved ones. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude for the nourishment your food provides.

Healthy Regards, Cassandra

Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. No material provided in this blog, including images and graphics, is intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider before making any dietary changes or starting a new health care regimen.  Do not neglect professional advice because of what you may have read in this blog.

Portrait of JNCS Registered Dietitian Nutritionis CassandraAbout the Author: Cassandra is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She graduated with a B.S in Nutritional Science with a concentration in Dietetics in from San Jose State University. Cassandra believes nutrition information, as it exists today, does not fully accommodate all cultural traditions and backgrounds. Cassandra’s goal is to work with individuals step-by-step to help them achieve their personal nutritional health and wellness goals. It is her passion to help individuals cultivate positive, sustainable healthy nutritional habits that they can carry with them throughout life.

References:

Lorgeril, M., Salen, P., Martin, J. L., Monjaud, I., Delaye, J., & Mamelle, N. (1999). Mediterranean diet, traditional risk factors, and the rate of cardiovascular complications after myocardial infarction: final report of the Lyon Diet Heart Study. Circulation, 99(6), 779–785. https://doi.org/10.1161/01.cir.99.6.779

Scarmeas, N., Stern, Y., Tang, M. X., Mayeux, R., & Luchsinger, J. A. (2006). Mediterranean diet and risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Annals of neurology59(6), 912–921. https://doi.org/10.1002/ana.20854

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