According to the Olive Oil Times, June 12, 2019, the Mediterranean Diet was ranked first place for best overall diet in 2019 by a panel of experts for US News and World Report. This was the first time that the Mediterranean diet took first place out of a total of 41 diets that were reviewed and ranked. The Mediterranean diet also took first place in several subcategories that included:
- Best Diabetes Diet
- Best Diet for Healthy Eating
- Best Plant-based Diet
- Easiest Diet to Follow
- Best heart-healthy Diet (tied also with the Ornish Diet)
How the Diets are Ranked
Every year journalists and editors from the US News and World Report examine different kinds of diets in order to make a list of them and to write a brief profile review of each one. These profiles are then sent to a panel of experts including nutritionists, researchers, doctors and professors from outstanding universities who rank them according to the following standards:
Is the diet easy to follow?
Is it tasty enough?
Does it make someone feel full or does it leave someone still feeling hungry?
Is the diet healthy and nutritionally complete according to the federal government’s 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans?
Can the diet produce weight loss over a short-term (first 12 months) or especially over a long-term period (two or more years)?
Is the diet safe for those who follow it?
Can the diet prevent or help to manage diabetes?
Can the diet help to prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD) such as heart disease and stroke?
The Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle
There is much research going on today about the Mediterranean diet. The research began during the 1950s when it was noted that people living in countries around the Mediterranean area had lower rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and dementia than other countries. See our blog post from March 16, 2018 about how the Mediterranean diet prevented cognitive decline in seniors. See our blog post from April 27, 2018 about the Mediterranean diet lowering the risk for hip fractures in seniors. Also, see our blog post from May 24, 2018 about the Mediterranean diet lowering the risk for aggressive prostate cancer.
While all the countries around the Mediterranean have their own dietary habits, and recipes vary from country to country, nonetheless, some characteristics are the same:
The Mediterranean diet is high in fresh fruits and colorful and green leafy vegetables, as well as root vegetables and potatoes. Salads are very popular around the Mediterranean and usually are served before the main dishes. At festivities one can find many different kinds of salads. Besides salads that contain fresh raw vegetables there are also those that contain cooked vegetables like beets, corn, peas, carrots and artichokes.
The Mediterranean diet is high in bread and cereals, including many that are whole grained.
The Mediterranean diet includes legumes like beans, lentils, peas and chick peas (garbanzos or humus).
The Mediterranean diet includes nuts like almonds, walnuts, pine nuts and pistachios.
The Mediterranean diet also includes foods made with anise seeds and sesame seeds.
Olive oil is the most important source of oil and in some countries it is the main and sole source of dietary fat.
The diet is low in dairy products and most of these that are included in the diet are fermented dairy products like yogurt. Also, there are cheeses like feta and Bulgarian cheese.
The diet is high in fish and seafood and low in poultry, eggs and red or processed meat.
Wine is sometimes drunk in low to moderate amounts, but only with meals.
Fresh and dried herbs are plentiful in all the Mediterranean countries such as garlic, onions, leeks, fennel, parsley, cilantro, dill, basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, bay leaves, marjoram and oregano and many of these are also heart healthy. Turmeric and hot chile peppers are also popular in some of the countries. Greek Sage or tri-lobed sage is drunk as tea in Greece. Spearmint, verbena (Louisa) and wormwood teas are very popular in some of the North African countries and Israel.
Tips and Recipes for the Mediterranean Diet
The OLDWAYS website offers tips and recipes about the Mediterranean diet.
Choose a Rehab or Skilled Nursing Care Facility that Provides a Healthy and Nutritious Cuisine
If you or your loved one are in need of rehabilitation or skilled nursing care, choose a facility like the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York. Van Duyn offers fine dining with a healthy and nutritious cuisine by a skilled and talented chef in conjunction with a dietitian and food service director.
Since research is showing more and more the importance of following a healthy diet like the Mediterranean diet that may prevent chronic diseases, it pays to take on some of these factors like eating more fruits and vegetables, adding more fish and less meat and using extra virgin olive oil.