Greek salad with soft white mizithra cheese on top of the vegetables

The Mediterranean diet is a healthy, tasty diet and lifestyle associated with communities near certain parts of the Mediterranean Sea, especially the Greek island of Crete, based on the way the locals typically ate before the 1960s. The American professor Ancel Keys led the first major study of the health benefits of this diet in the 1950s.

In recent decades, study after study has supported claims about the benefits of this diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, often eaten with generous amounts of olive oil and moderate quantities of wine and nuts, plus more limited amounts of dairy, fish, and poultry and less red meat.

In 2010, UNESCO recognized the Mediterranean diet on its list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. As UNESCO acknowledged, the “Mediterranean diet involves 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.” Far more than mere consumption of healthy foods, “eating together is the foundation of the cultural identity and continuity of communities throughout the Mediterranean basin.” 

While the healthy foods of the Mediterranean diet contain valuable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the relaxed, sociable lifestyle also reduces stress, leading to a host of additional benefits. There is even evidence that “adherence to a Mediterranean-style dietary pattern—compared to a typical American dietary pattern characterized by high consumption of red meat and dairy—reduced the environmental footprint, including reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved agricultural land use, and lessened energy and water consumption.” That’s one more reason to eat more plant-based products.

Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits Web Links