Here's why Mediterranean diet is consistently rated best diet for overall health

  • 3 Minutes Read
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

Year after year, experts tell us to look to the Mediterranean lifestyle and way of eating.

What is the best diet for overall health

What is the best diet for overall health? Studies show it is the Mediterranean diet

More a style of eating than an official diet, the Mediterranean diet features locally-sourced plant foods as mainstays: nuts, olives, legumes, fruits, greens and vegetables, and herbs and spices. Dairy foods, fish, and lamb are included in small amounts. Sugary desserts are uncommon in the diet, although honey is used as a sweetener.

Why adopt this diet? The Mediterranean diet is the most studied one out there. Research consistently links this style of eating to a lower risk for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, as well as easier weight management. In fact, the Mediterranean diet was ranked # 1 in 2020 by U.S. News' team of experts in five categories: Best Overall Diet, Best Plant-based Diet, Best Diabetes Diet, Best Diet for Healthy Eating, and Easiest Diet to Follow. Because the Mediterranean diet avoids calorie counting and a high-structure format, it ranked lower at 15th place for Best Weight-Loss Diets. However, why not use it as the foundation for your eating style and simply plug in the calorie tracking? In my expert opinion, it clearly checks all the boxes for overall health and fitness! Not to mention that many people, including myself, consider it the most enjoyable style of eating. You can't beat that!

The Mediterranean diet allows for a more liberal fat intake than low-fat diets, including the American Heart Association diet. The principal sources of fat are olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, fish oil, and olives, rather than processed meats, fatty meats, trans fats, and butter.

Foods to emphasize

Foods to eat in limited portions

Foods to enjoy occasionally

The Mediterranean diet also suggests wine in moderation. It's a traditional beverage throughout the Mediterranean region, where wine production and consumption are widespread. Of course, water is also highly recommended.

Don't assume that the term "Mediterranean diet" means your foods and recipes must be from the Mediterranean region. In fact, you could create a similar plant-based diet using foods from Central America or Asia.

Check out this daily menu using recipes from the MyNetDiary Premium collection:

Pros of the Mediterranean diet

Cons of the Mediterranean diet

Mediterranean diet and lifestyle resources

Enjoy the Mediterranean lifestyle long-term for lifelong benefits

Now that you know what the best diet for overall health is, you can see if the Mediterranean diet fits your plan if you desire to make long-term diet changes to improve health and weight. The Mediterranean diet isn't something you go on for a few weeks and then abandon. It's a diet for life and a lifestyle and undoubtedly weight-loss friendly when blended with calorie tracking! It's been the long-term diet for millions of people living around the Mediterranean region. Variations on the plant-based theme are certainly viable long-term eating plans anywhere in the world.

Adapted from original content by Donna P Feldman MS RDN.

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Updated August 27, 2020

Meal Planning & Diets->Mediterranean Style Weight Loss->Diets
Aug 28, 2020
Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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