What is the Mediterranean Diet?

Throw the word diet out of your vocabulary and change your relationship with food that's loaded with flavor and seasoning. The Mediterranean diet—which is less a diet and more a way of eating—is impacting both menu and flavor trends across the United States. The simplicity, freshness, vibrant colors and overall health benefits of Mediterranean eating has the world wanting to know—and eat—more.

Perhaps the world's healthiest lifestyle, people living in the Mediterranean tend to follow a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds and olive oil. Mediterranean eating features a diet of fish and poultry (two of the leanest forms of protein) rather than red meats and limits the unhealthy fats. And you'll be happy to know that red wine is also consumed in moderation.

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A recent study from the American College of Cardiology showed that adults who followed the Mediterranean healthy lifestyle were 47 percent less likely to develop heart disease over a 10-year period. The study's co-author Ekavi Georgousopoulou, a Ph.D. candidate at Harokopio University said the study showed the diet is a beneficial intervention for all types of people, in both gender and age groups as well as healthy individuals and those with existing conditions.

The Mediterranean lifestyle is well balanced and places an emphasis on natural, unprocessed foods that are high in nutrients and low in unsaturated fats. Most athletes, especially endurance athletes, seek a diet that will sustain energy levels during peak performance. The ability to sustain energy levels comes from consuming complex carbs, which the Mediterranean lifestyle offers.

Many world-leading experts encourage the Mediterranean lifestyle. A recent study found that people in the bordering countries of the Mediterranean Sea live longer and suffer less than many Americans from cancer and cardiovascular disease because of an active lifestyle, weight control and a diet low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat, US News recently reported.

More: 5 Simple Rules to Maintain a Healthy Diet

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