Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean Diet

For Patients & Caregivers

The Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduction in the incidence of many diseases, but may not be suitable for everyone.

The Mediterranean diet represents the diet commonly consumed in regions that border the Mediterranean Sea. It consists of a variety of fruits, vegetables, cereals, legumes, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and moderate intake of red wine with meals. Epidemiological studies show that the Mediterranean diet is a model of healthy eating that contributes to better health and overall quality of life, and can reduce the risk of heart disease.

  • Heart disease
    Several studies support this use.
  • Disease/cancer prevention
    The Mediterranean diet has been shown beneficial in several studies.
  • Weight management
    One recent study supports its use for weight loss.
  • Diabetes management
    Mediterranean diet was found helpful in managing diabetes.
  • Cholesterol management
    Several studies support this claim.
  • You have food allergies: The Mediterranean diet consists of a variety of grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts/seeds.
  • You have gastrointestinal difficulties: The Mediterranean diet may compound digestive problems.
  • Cancer patients may have special nutritional needs and should consult a dietician before changing diet.
  • Alcohol consumption can increase the risk of certain cancers.
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For Healthcare Professionals

Omega diet

The Mediterranean diet is consumed in regions that border the Mediterranean Sea. Epidemiological studies show that it contributes to better health and overall quality of life. It is also an established model of eating for primary and secondary prevention of various chronic diseases. The Mediterranean diet consists of a variety of fruits, vegetables, cereals, legumes, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and moderate intake of red wine with meals (1). Olive oil, a monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), is the major source of dietary fat and MUFAs comprise 15% to 20% (2). A hallmark of the Mediterranean diet is the low consumption of meat and dairy products (3).

Recent epidemiological analyses suggest that over 90% of type 2 diabetes, 80% of coronary heart disease, and 70% of stroke can be avoided by adopting healthful food choices that model the traditional Mediterranean diet (4). Large prospective studies found that adherence to the Mediterranean diet resulted in a significant reduction of gastric adenocarcinoma incidence   (6) and overall reduction in cancer risk (7). A randomized controlled trial demonstrated that a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events (10). Conclusions of a meta-analyses also indicate associations between greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet and a significant reduction in risk of metabolic syndrome (8), cardiovascular factors (9), overall mortality, cancer incidence and mortality, and incidence of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (1).

A variety of fruits, vegetables, cereals, legumes, combined with poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil and moderate red wine intake with meals (1).

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer prevention
  • Weight management
  • Diabetes management
  • Cholesterol management

The health benefits of the diet are attributed to the synergistic interactions between the nutrients, and not to a single nutrient (1).

  • The Mediterranean diet may not be appropriate for those with multiple food allergies/intolerances or those with gastrointestinal difficulties which prevent them from consuming a normal diet.
  • Alcohol consumption can increase the risk of certain cancers (5).

Several studies have demonstrated that adherence to a Mediterranean diet positively affects blood lipid levels (4).


  1. Sofi F, Cesari F, Abbate R, Gensini GF, Casini A. Adherence to Mediterranean diet and health status: meta-analysis. BMJ. 2008;337:a1344.

  2. Zazpe I, Sanchez-Tainta A, Estruch R, et al. A large randomized individual and group intervention conducted by registered dietitians increased adherence to Mediterranean-type diets: the PREDIMED study. J Am Diet Assoc. Jul 2008;108(7):1134-1144; discussion 1145.

  3. Benetou V, Trichopoulou A, Orfanos P, et al. Conformity to traditional Mediterranean diet and cancer incidence: the Greek EPIC cohort. Br J Cancer. Jul 8 2008;99(1):191-195.

  4. Willett WC. The Mediterranean diet: science and practice. Public Health Nutr. Feb 2006;9(1A):105-110.

  5. Allen NE, Beral V, Casabonne D, et al. Moderate alcohol intake and cancer incidence in women. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2009 Mar 4;101(5):296-305.

  6. Couto E, Boffetta P, Lagiou P, et al. Mediterranean dietary pattern and cancer risk in the EPIC cohort. Br J Cancer. 2011 Apr 26;104(9):1493-9.

  7. Kastorini CM, Milionis HJ, Esposito K, et al. The effect of mediterranean diet on metabolic syndrome and its components a meta-analysis of 50 studies and 534,906 individuals. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011 Mar 15;57(11):1299-313.

  8. Nordmann AJ, Suter-Zimmermann K, Bucher HC, et al. Meta-analysis comparing mediterranean to low-fat diets for modification of cardiovascular risk factors. Am J Med. 2011 Sep;124(9):841-851.e2.

  9. Estruch R, Ros E, Salas-Salvadó J, et al. Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet. N Engl J Med. 2013. Feb 25. [Epub ahead of print]

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