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The Mediterranean Diet – The Healthiest Way to Lose Weight

Got weight loss goals? The Mediterranean diet will help lose weight and feel great. Dr Jill Stein describes why and  how this healthy eating plan affects your body, brain, and lifestyle…and even how it influences Mother Earth!

“Being able to consume fat while dieting may make the Mediterranean Diet plan easier for some people to adhere to,” says Dr Stein. “And, as as a largely plant-based diet, the Mediterranean Diet plan is good for the planet as well as for people.”

For new, updated tips on this diet, read What is the Mediterranean Diet? Food That Fights Chronic Illness.

And, check out the the The Mediterranean Prescription: Meal Plans and Recipes to Help You Stay Slim and Healthy for the Rest of Your Life. It’s the most popular book on the Mediterranean diet – because it’s excellent!

The Mediterranean Diet – The Healthiest Way to Lose Weight

The Mediterranean Diet consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes (such as lentils and chick peas), whole grains, fish, nuts, unsaturated fatty acids (especially olive and canola oil) and sometimes wine, in modest amounts. The Mediterranean Diet may also include low-moderate quantities of low or no fat varieties of dairy products and meat.

A common misconception about the Mediterranean Diet is that the term “Mediterranean Diet” implies there is a specific diet from the region, but in fact there is no one official Mediterranean Diet. Different versions of the Mediterranean Diet plan use different sources and proportions of vegetable fats (olive oil, canola oil, and nuts), types of carbohydrates, kinds of protein sources (legumes, fish, chicken, eggs and lean meat) and quantities of alcohol (from none to moderate). For instance, here’s info about the Miami Mediterranean Diet Plan.

Regarding the link between the Mediterranean Diet Plan and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases: Several large observational studies (which look at people’s eating habits, and then assess their health many years later) suggest that people on the “Mediterranean Prescription” are much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than people who eat a more typical western diet. These studies also suggest that people with Alzheimer’s who eat a Mediterranean Diet have a greatly reduced mortality rate (by up to 70%), and longer life span (by an average of four years).  The one study to date looking specifically at Parkinson’s disease and the Mediterranean Diet plan found that people eating the diet had a reduced risk (by approximately 25%) of developing this disabling disease, as well.

More health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet plan include a reduced risk of developing heart disease, diabetes (by as much as 80%) and cancer as well as the mortality from heart disease, cancer and all causes in general (according to observational studies).

Many people think dieting means you have to strictly limit your fat intake to achieve your weight loss goals. Not true! In the Mediterranean Diet plan, the emphasis is not so much on reducing fat intake as it is on choosing healthy types of fat. Specifically, the Mediterranean Diet avoids unhealthy saturated fats in meats and dairy products, and trans fats in hydrogenated oils found in many processed foods. Instead the Mediterranean Diet plan encourages the consumption of healthy polyunsaturated fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids (in canola oil, fish, walnuts and green vegetables like spinach), and mono-unsaturated fats (in olive oil and canola oil).

As a largely plant-based diet, the Mediterranean Diet plan is good for Mother Earth, too. Plant-based foods require less energy and less land to produce than animal-based foods. This means less global warming, more food to go around, and healthier ecosystems in general. And since the food of the Mediterranean Diet Plan is unprocessed, much of it can often be produced sustainably (“organically”) by local family farms and agricultural coops.  That can provide green jobs and create a hedge against the unstable cost of food transportation – while also helping to improve community nutrition and food security.

If you have any thoughts or questions about the Mediterranean Prescription, please comment below…

Dr. Jill Stein is a board certified internist, health and environmental advocate, and author.

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10 thoughts on “The Mediterranean Diet – The Healthiest Way to Lose Weight”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hello Jimmy,

    Thanks for your Greek olive oil Mediterranean diet tip! I’ve heard about this diet. I’m glad it worked for you.

  2. My doctor recommended a weight loss program. He suggested a couple of options but they didn’t seem to workfor me.

    A friend of mine suggested the mediterranean diet and gave me a couple of different sites. One in particular was the greek olive oil mediterranean diet. This diet really work well for me. I lost almost 20 pounds and have more energy.

  3. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Congratulations, Julie, on losing 7 kilos! Good for you. How do you eat coconut oil — do you cook with it, or put it on salads?

  4. Great post and comments. I am actually eating more, being busy I always skipped breakfast, big mistake. Now I have a big breakfast and I have lost 7 kilos so far! I also have olive or coconut oil every day.

  5. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comment, Judy.

    The word “diet” doesn’t have the best reputation these days, and I’ve never been on a diet that worked, that actually helped me lose weight! But, I have lost about ten pounds in the past few months…slowly, but I think they’ll stay off.

    I’ve been eating lots of salads (following the “volumetrics” principle, which is that fibrous foods fill you up but aren’t fattening). It’s not the Mediterranean healthy eating plan per se, but it’s close. I’ve cut out my meat intake to a few bites of chicken, pork, or meat a week — off my husband’s plate 🙂

    Anyway, thanks for your comments…I love hearing from you!


  6. Well, in a sense Laurie and Biz are both correct. It should really just be called Mediterranean eating or a Mediterranean eating plan, which if done correctly is a diet of fruits, veggies, good oils (live EVOO), nuts, and legumes. So that is an eating ritual not a diet as we seem to use the word. Just a healthy way to eat!

  7. Definitely, biz — diets aren’t good for keeping the weight off because you can’t sustain those eating habits for the rest of your life!

    I lost 10 pounds in the past 3 months not by dieting. I’ve been focusing on filling up on fruits and veggies, and then eating the meat and potatos portion of my meal if I’m still hungry. I love fruit and veggies, because I’m full after eating them — but not stuffed and lethargic!

    The best way to lose weight is to find a healthy eating plan that you enjoy and can sustain for the rest of your life.

    And, stop emotional eating!

  8. I agree that weight is very important aspect of the health. But sincerely, I am not the fan of diets because simple reason – if you are overweight due to eating too much you can loose weight, but you will bulk up back, if you continue to eat as you used, after diet ending. I think that only solution is to have non-stop balanced nutrition intake.

  9. Some food groups in the Mediterranean diet are more important than others in promoting health and longer life, according to new research published on the British Medical Journal website.

    Eating more vegetables, fruits, nuts, pulses and olive oil, and drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, while not consuming a lot of meat or excessive amounts of alcohol is linked to people living longer.

    However, the study also claims, that following a Mediterranean diet high in fish, seafood and cereals and low in dairy products were not indicators of longevity.

    While several studies have concluded that the Mediterranean diet improves chances of living longer, this is the first to investigate the importance of individual components of the diet.

    Professor Dimitrios Trichopoulos at the Harvard School of Public Health explains that they have surveyed over 23,000 men and women who were participants in the Greek segment of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
    Participants were given dietary and lifestyle questionnaires when they enrolled onto the study and they were subsequently followed up for around 8.5 years with interviews. Their diets were rated from 0 to 10 based on the level of conformity to a traditional Mediterranean diet.

    As part of the interview process, participants were also asked about their smoking status, levels of physical activity and whether they had ever been diagnosed with cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

    The authors maintain that when high intake of vegetables, low intake of meat or moderate alcohol intake were excluded from the rating system, the benefits of following a Mediterranean diet were substantially reduced. They also note that there are clear benefits in combining several of the key components, for example high consumption of vegetables and olive oil.

    Professor Trichopoulou, lead author of the study, concludes that the main reasons why the Mediterranean diet can lead to living longer are moderate consumption of ethanol (mostly in the form of wine during meals, as traditionally done in the Mediterranean countries), low consumption of meat and meat products, and high consumption of vegetables, fruits and nuts, olive oil and legumes.

    Source: BMJ-British Medical Journal (2009, June 24). Longer Life Linked To Specific Foods In Mediterranean Diet. ScienceDaily.