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Gastroenterology

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Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet was developed based on the eating habits prior to 1960 in countries around the Mediterranean Sea — parts of Italy, Greece, France, Spain, Portugal, and North Africa. Chronic disease rates were low and adult life expectancy, high. This was attributed in part to their diet prior to 1960 and after 1960 these countries adopted a more “American diet”.

The diet is recognized to promote health and prevent chronic disease.

Foods to Eat

On a Mediterranean diet you will eat mostly plant based foods-including fruits and vegetables, potatoes, whole grained breads, beans, nuts, and seeds. Yogurt, cheese, poultry and eggs may be consumed in small portions. Other highlights:

  • You can have fish and seafood at least twice a week
  • Good fats are included: olive oil, olives, nuts, sunflower seeds, and avocados
  • Red wine is allowed in moderation
  • Water is the beverage of choice

It is also very important to maintain variety with minimal processed foods. Discouraged on the diet is refined sugar, refined grains, refined oils (canola and soybean oil), deli meats, processed meats.

Special Considerations

Research shows that regular physical activity provides many health benefits and promotes healthy weight. Walking and bicycling are typical methods of getting from place to place in many parts of the Mediterranean, and some form of regular physical activity or exercise is an important part of the Mediterranean diet.

Diet related lifestyle habits in the Mediterranean also contribute to good health. Mealtime is not rushed; people relax at the table, sharing food and conversation with family and friends. This helps to reduce stress and improve the body’s ability to digest foods and absorb nutrients.

Sample Menu