A Mediterranean-style diet seems to offer health benefits. The Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization developed together the Mediterranean food pyramid to help us with good food choices.

Go Mediterranean for overall health

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We are a month into the new year and by now resolutions are going by the wayside. It really is good to look at your diet and food choices as a life plan - a permanent lifetime direction that leads to a healthy weight and very good health.

A Mediterranean-style diet seems to offer health benefits, and this might be a good direction to go with your diet. Not dieting but a lifetime of eating well. And in fact, the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization developed together the Mediterranean food pyramid to help us with good food choices.

A Mediterranean diet has been linked to a lower risk for:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease

What makes up the Mediterranean food pyramid?

  • Whole grains such as brown and wild rice, farro, barley, bulgur
  • Dried beans and peas such as lentils, cannellini beans, chick peas
  • Fruits such as figs, apples, pomegranates and grapes
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts such as walnuts, pecans and pine nuts
  • Fats such as olive oil, safflower, canola, sunflower and grapeseed; avocados

Other features of the Mediterranean diet include:

  • Generous use of spices
  • Vegetarian meals such as bean or lentil soup or hearty grain salads
  • Seafood at least twice weekly
  • Yogurt and small amounts of aged cheeses
  • Red meat is infrequent
  • Limited sweets and rich desserts

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.