The Mediterranean diet is a diet inspired by the eating habits of Italy and Greece in the 1960s.The principal aspects of this diet include proportionally high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of non-fish meat products. Olive oil has been studied as a potential health factor for reducing all-cause mortality and the risk of chronic diseases.
The Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality in observational studies. There is some evidence that the Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of heart disease and early death, although a 2019 review determined that the evidence had low quality and was uncertain. The American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association recommend the Mediterranean diet as a healthy dietary pattern that may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes, respectively. The Mediterranean diet may help with weight loss in obese people. The Mediterranean diet is one of three healthy diets recommended in the 2015-2020 US Dietary Guidelines, which also include the DASH diet or a vegetarian diet.
The Mediterranean diet as a nutritional recommendation is different from the cultural practices that UNESCO listed in 2010 under the heading “Mediterranean diet” on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity: “a set of skills, knowledge, rituals, symbols and traditions concerning crops, harvesting, fishing, animal husbandry, conservation, processing, cooking, and particularly the sharing and consumption of food”, not as a particular set of foods.
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While this was merely an observational study that doesn’t conclusively prove cause and effect, it does support growing evidence that Mediterranean diet can be beneficial to heart health.