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Mediterranean Diet

Key points 

What is the Mediterranean diet? 

Studies show that people living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, like Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Morocco and other north African countries, enjoy lower rates of heart disease, stroke and type two diabetes than those of us living in Ireland and the rest of Europe.  

Over the past 60 years, researchers have linked some of these health benefits to traditional food intake in these communities. While it differs from region to region, the Mediterranean diet typically has the following: 

The Irish Food Pyramid gives similar guidance to the Mediterranean diet. 

Other Mediterranean lifestyle habits are also likely to play an important role in heart health, for example eating slowly and with others, leading a more relaxed way of life and enjoying regular physical activity. 


What are the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet? 

Year after year, the Mediterranean diet tops ‘healthiest diet’ ranks worldwide because of its health benefits and how easy it is to follow. The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are not linked to a single food but an overall dietary pattern that is: 

The Mediterranean diet can help you to:  lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke  improve blood glucose levels and protect against type two diabetes  maintain a healthy weight  live a longer life  reduce your risk of some cancers  reduce your risk of depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. 

Mediterranean diet and wine 

Wine may feature in the Mediterranean diet, but it is optional and only taken in small amounts. The key message? If you don’t drink alcohol, don’t start, and if you do drink alcohol, take it in moderation.  

Visit AskAboutAlcohol for more information.

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