Watch: What is the Mediterranean diet?

You might already know that a Mediterranean diet is linked to better health, but what is it and what are the benefits of eating the Mediterranean way? We answer some common questions about the Mediterranean diet.

Why is the Mediterranean diet good for your heart?

Does 'the Mediterranean diet' just mean Italian food?

When we talk about a Mediterranean diet, we are referring to a style of eating followed by people from parts of countries such as Italy but also Spain, France and Greece.

Do you have to be in the Mediterranean to eat the diet?

A typical Mediterranean diet has common elements such as lots of vegetables, fruits, beans, cereals and cereal products, for example wholegrain bread, pasta and brown rice.

It also contains moderate amounts of fish, white meat and some low-fat dairy produce and, in some cases, nuts, as well as smaller amounts of red meat and sweet desserts. Unsaturated fats such as olive oil are used instead of saturated fats such as butter, lard or ghee.

So while, sadly, we can’t all be transported to the Mediterranean, we can all have a taste of it at home, and help look after our hearts.

Do I need to be an expert in pasta, tapas or mezze?

These proportions of different food groups in the Mediterranean diet follow the same balance of food groups recommended in the UK, and anyone can apply them to their own diet. The eatwell plate is a good guide to the proportions of different food groups you should include in your diet.

Can the Mediterranean diet help you live longer?

Research into this style of eating has shown a reduced risk of developing problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and raised cholesterol, which are all risk factors for heart disease. Researchers have also found that people who closely follow a Mediterranean diet are more likely to live a longer life and are less likely to become obese.

Does the Mediterranean diet have to include wine?

Wine may feature in the Mediterranean diet, but only in moderation.

Is the Mediterranean diet all about "superfoods"?

There may be certain foods that are found to be more or less important as research continues. For now, it seems that it is the overall diet that is important, rather than individual ‘superfoods’.

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