For the first time the Mediterranean diet has won the #1 spot as 2019’s best diets in rankings from US News & World Report. There isn’t actually a Mediterranean diet, there are basic principles that Greeks, Italians, French, and Spanish alike stick to.
In Italy, for example, food plays a big role in having a high life expectancy which is mainly 82 years, but in regions like Pollica, people live 15% longer. Also, studies claim residents have lower rates of heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Reasons for this are regular exercise, a mild climate, and of course, a good diet.
Other studies found that the Mediterranean diet can also reduce the risk for high cholesterol, diabetes, dementia, depression, breast cancer, and memory loss. Besides the first spot as the best diet, the Mediterranean diet landed the top spot in other categories as well, such as best plant-based diet, best diet for diabetes, best diet for healthy eating, and easiest diet to follow.
Basically, the Mediterranean diet entails plant-based cooking, with meals focused on fruit and vegetables, beans and seeds, whole grains, few nuts, extra virgin oil, fish, no refined sugar or flour, few fats other than olive oil – such as butter, or none at all. Meat can also be present but rarely, more often encountered are dairy, eggs, or poultry, even though less than in the traditional Western diet.
Atlanta registered dietitian Rahaf Al Bochi says: “It’s more than a diet, it’s a lifestyle. It also encourages eating with friends and family, socializing over meals, mindfully eating your favorite foods, as well as mindful movement and exercise for a complete healthy lifestyle.”
Internist Dr. Sharon Bergquist who founded the lifestyle medicine and wellness programs at Atlanta’s Emory University said: “These minimally processed plant-based foods affect our health in a very deep way. They reduce inflammation, reduce oxidative stress, balance our gut bacteria, and they’re getting at the root cause of disease. It’s the same consistent theme that helps with overall health.”