Meals from the sunny Mediterranean have been linked to stronger bones, a healthier heart and longer life, along with a reduced risk for diabetes and high blood pressure.
If you're looking for a heart-healthy eating plan, the Mediterranean diet might be right for you.
The Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating — plus a splash of flavorful olive oil and perhaps a glass of red wine — among other components characterizing the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
Most healthy diets include fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, and limit unhealthy fats. While these parts of a healthy diet are tried-and-true, subtle variations or differences in proportions of certain foods may make a difference in your risk of heart disease.
Benefits of the Mediterranean diet
Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. The diet has been associated with a lower level of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the "bad" cholesterol that's more likely to build up deposits in your arteries.
Key components of the Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes:
This week, a preliminary study in JAMA Internal Medicine reported that older women in Spain who ate a traditional Mediterranean diet enhanced with extra-virgin olive oil were less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
To be sure, it’s no shock that a tasty, wholesome diet that’s already been proven to sharply reduce the number of heart attacks can also help to fight breast cancer. “Am I surprised that the Mediterranean diet is beneficial for breast cancer? No, because it seems to be beneficial across the board,” says Dr. Beth Overmoyer, a breast cancer specialist at the Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Comprehensive Cancer Center