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Mediterranean Food Increases Memory, Study Shows

Mediterranean Food Increases Memory, Study Shows

Maybe more olive oil will help you remember where you put your keys

A Mediterranean diet doesn't just add years to your life, it may also help you remember those years more clearly. A small study suggests a diet high in vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, plus olive oil or nuts, can improve memory and brain power, Reuters reports. Researchers in Barcelona performed cognitive tests on 447 adults, aged 55 to 80, then asked them to follow a low-fat diet, a Mediterranean diet with five tablespoons of olive oil per day, or a Mediterranean diet with 30 grams of walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds daily, the Wall Street Journal reports. After four years, 334 took another test. The low-fat dieters showed a notable decline in memory and cognitive function. But those on a Mediterranean diet with olive oil showed less decline in cognitive function related to working memory, reasoning, and attention, while those who chowed down on extra nuts showed stronger memory function than others, reports LiveScience.

"This was the first clinical, randomized study using a dietary pattern for good health," as opposed to an observational study, author Emilio Ros says. "Our results suggest that in an older population, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts may counteract age-related cognitive decline," the researchers explain. They say the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents in nuts and olive oil may fight chemical processes in the brain that power neurodegeneration. "If you can delay your age-related cognitive decline, you can process tasks with higher speed," Ros says. However, a Mediterranean diet had no effect on the risk of participants developing mild cognitive impairment. An expert not involved in the study says omega fats do improve brain function, but an abundance of saturated fat could hurt cell membranes, so balance is key. (Feeling forgetful? Take a nap.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: To Keep Memory Greased, Go Mediterranean

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Mediterranean diet and dementia

Evidence shows that a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and cereals, and low in red meat and sugar could help reduce dementia risks.

The best way to reduce your risk of dementia is to adapt various aspects of your lifestyle, including eating certain foods, taking regular exercise, not smoking, and maintaining normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

There is some evidence that eating a Mediterranean-style diet can reduce the risk of developing problems with memory and thinking, and getting some forms of dementia.

Mediterranean diets are traditionally high in fruits, vegetables, legumes and cereals, with moderate consumption of oily fish and dairy, and low in meat, sugar and saturated fat. Most fat in this type of diet comes from olive oil, and alcohol is consumed in moderation with meals. Research in the 1960s showed that men from Mediterranean regions who adhered to traditional diets had lower rates of heart attacks. This prompted continual investigation into the potential health benefits of the diet.

Investigations have shown that this kind of diet is associated with lower levels of stroke, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and death from any cause. They have also shown that sticking to the diet more strictly might be associated with slower rates of decline in memory and thinking.

Eating certain foods, taking regular exercise, not smoking, and maintaining normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels can help to minimise your dementia risk.

Mediterranean cuisine growing in popularity, study says

Food Genius, a foodservice data provider, published a new monthly industry analytics presentation focused on Mediterranean cuisine.

Food Genius, a foodservice data provider, published a new monthly industry analytics presentation focused on Mediterranean cuisine. The cuisine has grown in popularity the last several years due to the success of operators like Zoe's Kitchen and the rise of the Greek yogurt category, the company said in an announcement.

For those in the restaurant industry who are thinking about how to incorporate Mediterranean ingredients and flavors into their offerings, the Mediterranean Menu Trends and Insights data from Food Genius details analytics on what ingredients, dishes, proteins and dressings are most utilized within U.S. Mediterranean cuisine. Health experts, focusing on plant-based foods, recently promoted Mediterranean cuisine as a healthy and well-balanced diet that could curb memory loss as the brain ages.

The data present opportunities for non-Mediterranean operators to think about how they can incorporate Mediterranean-inspired flavors or ingredients that consumers want, Food Genius said.

Key insights from Food Genius' Report:

  • Hummus is only featured on 14 percent of all menus nationwide, but 75 oercent of Mediterranean menus
  • Lamb appears to be more established as a distinctly Mediterranean ingredient in its application, than in most other cuisines.
  • The average price of Mediterranean entrees across the US is $7.48

Mediterranean Menu Trends and Insights highlights data sourced from Q2 2015 by Food Genius.

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Research has also demonstrated a reduced risk of developing mild cognitive impairment for those who adhere to a Mediterranean diet. Mild cognitive impairment is a condition that sometimes, but not always, leads to further cognitive decline and a diagnosis of Alzheimer's.

Research outlined in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease indicates that people with mild cognitive impairment were less likely to progress to Alzheimer's disease if they consistently followed a Mediterranean diet.

Can a diet boost your brain power?

New study shows how Mediterranean foods like nuts and olive oil may ward off cognitive decline.

by Michael d'Estries | Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Mediterranean diet just gave us all another reason to rethink our eating habits.

The popular food regimen, with a focus on vegetables, protein-packed fish, olive oil, nuts, fruits and low amounts of meat and dairy, is not only wonderful for hearts and waistlines, but also for the very thing you're using to read this sentence.

An intensive, four-year study discovered that the Mediterranean diet, supplemented with a small increase in the daily consumption of nuts and olive oil, can help protect the brain from the damaging effects of aging. This is a potentially crucial weapon in the difficult fight against cognitive decline, dementia and devastating diseases such as Alzheimer's.

/>Mediterranean yum: This healthy beetroot pizza includes pine nuts, rosemary and small amounts of feta cheese. (Photo: Yulia von Eisenstein/Shutterstock)

The study involved 447 cognitively healthy participants, ages 55 to 80 years old, who were divided into three groups. Two groups were told to follow a Mediterranean diet and asked to increase their consumption of extra virgin olive oil (to 5 tablespoons per day) or increase their consumption of nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds). The third group was told to simply follow a low-fat diet.

At the end of the clinical trial, the researchers found that the nuts and olive oil groups outperformed the control group on both memory tests and skills requiring quick thinking. Dr. Emilio Ros, who led the study at the Hospital Clinic at the University of Barcelona in Spain, believes this force field for cognitive function likely comes from the abundance of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents found in the supplemental foods.

/>Adding some extra virgin olive oil and nuts to your vegetables is not only delicious, but also good for your brain. (Photo: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock)

While it's not recommended that you start doing shots of olive oil and gorging on walnuts, supplementing these superfoods with a diet rich in vegetables and low in meat and dairy is likely a great place to start.

If all this food for thought has you wanting to take action right away, the fine team here at From The Grapevine has already compiled a complete Mediterranean menu to help you get started. Want even more? Our resident chefs Miriam Kresh and Sarah F. Berkowitz have hundreds of tasty recipes in our Israeli kitchen.

Michael d'Estries covers science, technology, film, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Diet Review: Mediterranean Diet

Chances are you have heard of the Mediterranean diet. If you have a chronic condition like heart disease or high blood pressure, your doctor may even have prescribed it to you. It is often promoted to decrease the risk of heart disease, depression, and dementia.

The traditional diets of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea differ slightly so there are different versions of the Mediterranean diet. However, in 1993 the Harvard School of Public Health, Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust, and the European Office of the World Health Organization introduced the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid as a guide to help familiarize people with the most common foods of the region. More of an eating pattern than a strictly regimented diet plan, the pyramid emphasized certain foods based on the dietary traditions of Crete, Greece, and southern Italy during the mid-20 th century. [1,2] At that time, these countries displayed low rates of chronic disease and higher than average adult life expectancy despite having limited access to healthcare. It was believed that the diet—mainly fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, fish, olive oil, small amounts of dairy, and red wine—contributed to their health benefits. The pyramid also highlighted daily exercise and the beneficial social aspects of eating meals together.

How It Works

The Mediterranean diet is a primarily plant-based eating plan that includes daily intake of whole grains, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, beans and other legumes, nuts, herbs, and spices. Other foods like animal proteins are eaten in smaller quantities, with the preferred animal protein being fish and seafood. Although the pyramid shape suggests the proportion of foods to eat (e.g., eat more fruits and vegetables and less dairy foods), it does not specify portion sizes or specific amounts. It is up to the individual to decide exactly how much food to eat at each meal, as this will vary by physical activity and body size. There are additional points that make this eating plan unique:

  • An emphasis on healthy fats. Olive oil is recommended as the primary added fat, replacing other oils and fats (butter, margarine). Other foods naturally containing healthful fats are highlighted, such as avocados, nuts, and oily fish like salmon and sardines among these, walnuts and fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Choosing fish as the preferred animal protein at least twice weekly and other animal proteins of poultry, eggs, and dairy (cheese or yogurt) in smaller portions either daily or a few times a week. Red meat is limited to a few times per month.
  • Choosing water as the main daily beverage, but allowing a moderate intake of wine with meals, about one to two glasses a day for men and one glass a day for women.
  • Stressing daily physical activity through enjoyable activities.

The Research So Far

Research has consistently shown that the Mediterranean diet is effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and overall mortality. [3, 4] A study of nearly 26,000 women found that those who followed this type of diet had 25% less risk of developing cardiovascular disease over the course of 12 years. [5] The study examined a range of underlying mechanisms that might account for this reduction, and found that changes in inflammation, blood sugar, and body mass index were the biggest drivers.

One interesting finding of this eating plan is that it dispels the myth that people with or at risk for heart disease must eat a low fat diet. Although it does matter which types of fats are chosen, the percentage of calories from fat is less of an issue. The PREDIMED study, a primary prevention trial including thousands of people with diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease found that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts and without any fat and calorie restrictions reduced the rates of death from stroke by roughly 30%. [6] Most dietary fats were healthy fats, such as those from fatty fish, olive oil, and nuts, but total fat intake was generous at 39-42% of total daily calories, much higher than the 20-35% fat guideline as stated by the Institute of Medicine. [7] Risk of type 2 diabetes was also reduced in the PREDIMED trial. [8]

There has also been increased interest in the diet’s effects on aging and cognitive function. [9-11] Cell damage through stress and inflammation that can lead to age-related diseases has been linked to a specific part of DNA called telomeres. These structures naturally shorten with age, and their length size can predict life expectancy and the risk of developing age-related diseases. Telomeres with long lengths are considered protective against chronic diseases and earlier death, whereas short lengths increase risk. Antioxidants can help combat cell stress and preserve telomere length, such as by eating foods that contain antioxidants nutrients like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. These foods are found in healthy eating patterns like the Mediterranean diet. [12] This was demonstrated in a large cohort of 4676 healthy middle-aged women from the Nurses’ Health Study where participants who more closely followed the Mediterranean diet were found to have longer telomere length. [12]

Another Nurses’ Health Study following 10,670 women ages 57-61 observed the effect of dietary patterns on aging. [13] Healthy aging was defined as living to 70 years or more, and having no chronic diseases (e.g., type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, lung disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer) or major declines in mental health, cognition, and physical function. The study found that the women who followed a Mediterranean-type eating pattern were 46% more likely to age healthfully. Increased intake of plant foods, whole grains, and fish moderate alcohol intake and low intake of red and processed meats were believed to contribute to this finding.

Potential Pitfalls

  • There is a risk of excess calorie intake because specific amounts of foods and portion sizes are not emphasized, which could lead to weight gain. It might be helpful to use the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, which provides guidance on specific types of foods to choose, along with a balanced plate guide such as the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate, which gives a better indication of proportions of food to eat per meal. However, it is important to note that—probably in part due to the higher intake of olive oil and less processed foods—the Mediterranean dietary pattern provides satiety and enables long term adherence. In one of the most successful weight loss trials to date, those assigned to the Mediterranean diet maintained weight loss over a period of six years. [14]
  • Research supports the health benefits of a Mediterranean-style eating pattern that includes several different foods. It is the combination of these foods that appear protective against disease, as the benefit is not as strong when looking at single foods or nutrients included in the Mediterranean diet. [12] Therefore it is important to not simply add olive oil or nuts to one’s current diet but to adopt the plan in its entirety.

Bottom Line

Research supports the use of the Mediterranean diet as a healthy eating pattern for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, increasing lifespan, and healthy aging. When used in conjunction with caloric restriction, the diet may also support healthy weight loss.


  1. Willett WC, Sacks F, Trichopoulou A, Drescher G, Ferro-Luzzi A, Helsing E, Trichopoulos D. Mediterranean diet pyramid: a cultural model for healthy eating. AJCN. 1995 Jun 161(6):1402S-6S.
  2. Gifford KD. Dietary fats, eating guides, and public policy: history, critique, and recommendations. Am J Med. 2002 Dec 30113(9):89-106.
  3. Fung TT, Rexrode KM, Mantzoros CS, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB. Mediterranean diet and incidence of and mortality from coronary heart disease and stroke in women. Circulation. 2009 Mar 3119(8):1093-100.
  4. Lopez-Garcia E, Rodriguez-Artalejo F, Li TY, Fung TT, Li S, Willett WC, Rimm EB, Hu FB. The Mediterranean-style dietary pattern and mortality among men and women with cardiovascular disease. AJCN. 2013 Oct 3099(1):172-80.
  5. Ahmad S, Moorthy MV, Demler OV, Hu FB, Ridker PM, Chasman DI, Mora S. Assessment of Risk Factors and Biomarkers Associated With Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Among Women Consuming a Mediterranean Diet. JAMA Network Open. 2018 Dec 71(8):e185708-.
  6. Estruch R, Ros E, Salas-Salvadó J, Covas MI, Corella D, Arós F, Gómez-Gracia E, Ruiz-Gutiérrez V, Fiol M, Lapetra J, Lamuela-Raventos RM. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts. New England Journal of Medicine. 2018 Jun 13. [Note: reference updated in June 2018 due to retraction and republication]
  7. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. The National Academies Press, 2005. Accessed 10/16/17.
  8. Salas-Salvadó J, Bulló M, Babio N, Martínez-González MÁ, Ibarrola-Jurado N, Basora J, Estruch R, Covas MI, Corella D, Arós F, Ruiz-Gutiérrez V. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with the Mediterranean diet. Diabetes care. 2011 Jan 134(1):14-9.
  9. Loughrey DG, Lavecchia S, Brennan S, Lawlor BA, Kelly ME. The impact of the Mediterranean diet on the cognitive functioning of healthy older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Advances in Nutrition. 2017 Jul 68(4):571-86.
  10. Aridi YS, Walker JL, Wright OR. The association between the Mediterranean dietary pattern and cognitive health: a systematic review. Nutrients. 2017 Jun 289(7):674.
  11. Bhushan A, Fondell E, Ascherio A, Yuan C, Grodstein F, Willett W. Adherence to Mediterranean diet and subjective cognitive function in men. European journal of epidemiology. 2017 Nov 17:1-2.
  12. Crous-Bou M, Fung TT, Prescott J, Julin B, Du M, Sun Q, Rexrode KM, Hu FB, De Vivo I. Mediterranean diet and telomere length in Nurses’ Health Study: population based cohort study. BMJ. 2014 Dec 2349:g6674.
  13. Samieri C, Sun Q, Townsend MK, Chiuve SE, Okereke OI, Willett WC, Stampfer M, Grodstein F. The Association Between Dietary Patterns at Midlife and Health in Aging: An Observational Study. Annals of internal medicine. 2013 Nov 5159(9):584-91.
  14. Shai I, Schwarzfuchs D, Henkin Y, Shahar DR, Witkow S, Greenberg I, Golan R, Fraser D, Bolotin A, Vardi H, Tangi-Rozental O. Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or low-fat diet. NEJM. 2008 Jul 172008(359):229-41.
Last Updated: December 2018

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Key Takeaways: The Keto Diet Vs. The Mediterranean Diet

To briefly summarize what we covered in the first half of this article, we put together a graphic with the most important points:

As you can see, both diets have the potential to vastly improve health, but each approach can be a better choice depending on the individual. Keto, for example, may help treat specific neurological conditions and can have a more substantial impact on many risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In contrast, the Mediterranean diet may be may be a safer and healthier option for those who do not respond well to low carb diets or diets that are higher in saturated fat.

By pitting these two diets against each other, however, we are leaving an important question unanswered: What happens when we combine carb restriction and ketosis with Mediterranean foods? Let’s dig into the literature to find out.

Related Links

References: Mediterranean diet and 3-year Alzheimer brain biomarker changes in middle-aged adults. Berti V, Walters M, Sterling J, Quinn CG, Logue M, Andrews R, Matthews DC, Osorio RS, Pupi A, Vallabhajosula S, Isaacson RS, de Leon MJ, Mosconi L. Neurology. 2018 Apr 13. pii: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000005527. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000005527. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 29653991.

Funding: NIH’s National Institute on Aging Weill Cornell Medical College Department of Neurology and Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic, Weill Cornell Memory Disorders Program.

Top 15 Foods to Eat on the Mediterranean Diet

We know… By now we should hand you a list of the foods which are recommended for this wholesome diet. Without further delay, here are the top fifteen foods we suggest that you eat while on the Mediterranean diet.

  • VEGETABLES: These are are a valuable source of minerals and overall satisfied feeling
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Kale
  • FRUITS: Whole and fresh fruits are a major element of the Mediterranean diet. They can be eaten raw or made into juices.
  • Avocadoes
  • Pommergrants
  • WHOLE GRAINS – These are an excellent source of minerals such as iron, potassium, and magnesium as well as fiber. Here are a few listed below:
  • Pasta
  • Oatmeal
  • NUTS – It’s always a great idea to have some nuts to snack on. Here is a suggested few you could enjoy:
  • Cashews
  • Walnuts
  • HEALTHY FATS – These can be gained from the use of:
  • Olive Oil
  • Canola oil
  • SPICES – Tasty! Herbs and spices add rich health promoting flavors to your meals instead of just salt.
  • Thyme
  • Cloves
  • FISH – Once or twice a week, you get to savor these fresh fishes. Avoid frying unless you’re using canola or olive oil.
  • Tuna
  • Mackerel

Start with These 22 Recipes If You’re Doing the Mediterranean Diet

So, you’re thinking about trying out the Mediterranean diet? First of all, great choice. With no rigid rules around cutting out macronutrients but an emphasis on eating more heart-healthy foods, this particular diet is one of the most sustainable ones around. Widmer RJ, et al. (2014). The Mediterranean diet, its components, and cardiovascular disease. DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2014.10.014

But our favorite part about it is that the kind of ingredients it prioritizes allows for some seriously good eating. With rich tahini sauce, fruity olive oil, nutty whole grains, plenty of veggies, fish and eggs, and tons of fresh herbs and spices all getting two thumbs up, just imagine the meals you can make.

But if you’re still not sure where to begin or are simply overwhelmed by the options, here are 22 of our picks for the best — and simplest —Mediterranean diet recipes.

Short of actually flying out to that sunny coastline, creating these dishes at home is the best way to kick off your new and improved lifestyle.

1. Mediterranean-flavored overnight oats

Overnight oats are all the rage, but even veteran nutrition nuts might be pleasantly surprised by this unique, Mediterranean-inspired concoction.

With ricotta cheese, blood oranges, pistachios, and lavender honey (if you can find it), it’s a fruity bowl that’s just creamy enough to make you appreciate oats again.

2. Greek tofu scramble

Honor the Mediterranean diet’s emphasis on plant-based eating with this produce-packed, vegan protein-rich breakfast.

It’s bursting with veggies, but the tahini and nutritional yeast are the real heroes for adding a ton of rich flavor to the crumbled tofu.

3. Scrambled eggs in caramelized onions and paprika

You don’t have to settle for plain old scrambled eggs when you’re on the Mediterranean diet. The whipped eggs in this recipe are stirred into a mixture of caramelized onion, tomato, and lots of herbs.

Add feta if you wish, but it’s just as tasty if you choose to go dairy-free.

4. Orange and almond granola

Extra virgin olive oil may sound like an unusual ingredient for granola, but don’t knock it ’til you try it.

It’s a seriously good complement to the honey and orange zest, and you’re still getting plenty of nutty, crunchy substance from the almonds and baked oats.

5. Breakfast tabbouleh

With bulgur, lots of parsley, and an olive oil and lemon dressing, this is pretty much your typical tabbouleh. But the addition of eggs gives it some much-needed protein that makes it all the more breakfasty.

Poaching them will require 5 extra minutes, but when you’ve got runny egg yolk to dip your pita wedges into, you’ll be grateful you took that time.

6. Honey lemon ricotta breakfast toast with figs and pistachios

Give peanut butter a break and spread your toast with a layer of whipped ricotta lemon and honey instead.

The lemon’s tart and zesty flavor liven up the entire recipe, while sliced figs and pistachios on top get that sweet and savory combo just right.

7. Mediterranean sweet potato hash

Sweet potatoes replace the white ones in this healthy hash, and while you won’t find bacon in the mix, you won’t even notice it’s missing.

This blogger changes things up by adding green olives and mozzarella balls, and let’s not forget about the juicy pomegranate seeds that make the dish totally unique.

8. Spiced chickpeas

Chickpeas are good for more than just hummus, guys!

Combine them in a pan with cardamom, cumin, and some red pepper flakes, and they become spicy, crispy, and totally addictive. Toss them into salads or eat them on their own as a delicious side or snack.

9. Muhammara

You can always find hummus at the store, but one must-have dip that isn’t so readily available at the supermarket is this traditional Syrian red pepper and walnut dip.

While there’s usually a piece of bread blended into the mix for texture, this recipe opts for rolled oats. But otherwise, it keeps the cumin-spiced, garlicky flavors of the classic.

10. Greek style lemon roasted potatoes

You’re hit with an intense craving for fries, but you’re really trying to lay off the whole deep-fried thing. Make these oven-cooked potatoes instead.

Coated in olive oil, garlic powder, and a hint of lemon juice, then roasted, they have the crispy outsides and buttery insides that are reminiscent of thick-cut wedges. We’re pretty sure they’ll hit the spot.

11. Mediterranean cauliflower salad

The Mediterranean diet doesn’t have anything against carbs, per se (you can eat pasta), but for the times you do want to cut back, opt for this “grain” salad.

Cauliflower has been pulverized and microwaved until tender, then tossed with a heap of other veggies and a ridiculously easy dressing. You’ll feel like you’re eating rice, but really it’s veggies.

12. Fattoush

With bits of toasted pita, chopped vegetables, fresh herbs, and a lemon- and garlic-infused olive oil dressing, this traditional Lebanese bread salad is the ideal light lunch.

Need some extra protein? Add chickpeas, feta, salmon or grilled chicken to make it more filling.

13. Fresh fava bean salad

Chickpeas usually take the spotlight when we think of Mediterranean food (hello, falafel and hummus), but don’t forget, there are plenty of other legumes that are worth incorporating into your meals.

This salad mixes fresh, protein-packed boiled fava beans with olive oil-flavored homemade croutons and lots of Kalamata olives for a lettuce-free salad you’ll be eating by the forkful.

14. Yogurt tahini Mediterranean carrot salad

The Mediterranean diet doesn’t have much space for mayonnaise, but if it’s a creamy carrot salad you’re looking for, this one totally delivers.

The tahini and Greek yogurt dressing offers much more healthy fat and protein than mayo, while feta and parsley amp up the Mediterranean vibe.

15. Mediterranean chickpea tuna pitas

Chickpeas step in for chicken, and once again, tahini replaces mayo in the creamy sauce for this totally vegan take on the deli salad.

And since we’re going Mediterranean, it’s tucked into pita pockets instead of sliced bread, alongside basil, cherry tomatoes, and olives.

16. Tomato and roasted Mediterranean vegetable risotto

With the Mediterranean area including Italy, how could the cuisine not be super drool-worthy? And while the cheesy pizzas and rich pasta are more famous, this risotto reflects the region’s pride in fresh produce.

It’s loaded with all sorts of vegetables in a tomato-based broth that doesn’t involve any dairy whatsoever.

17. Mediterranean veggie tacos

You can even give tacos the Mediterranean diet treatment by stuffing crunchy tortilla shells with ingredients like olives, feta, hummus, and Greek dressing.

Not only are these a nice change to typical Taco Tuesday, but the no-cook method makes them even easier to whip up for a quick meal.

18. Cumin beef fried rice

Fried rice isn’t just a Chinese take-out dish. This recipe takes a more Mediterranean route, using cumin and sumac, a lemony spice common in the region’s cuisine, to season the meat, egg, and grains.

It’s a well-balanced, nourishing meal, all ready in 1 pan and 30 minutes.

19. Mediterranean sheet pan salmon

If it’s heart-healthy and Mediterranean-diet approved, this sheet pan salmon definitely makes the cut.

The fish itself is a powerhouse of omega-3 fatty acids, but if that’s not enough, the olive oil coating and pitted olive garnish can help your system run like a well-oiled machine.

20. Mediterranean turkey burger

The Mediterranean diet isn’t huge on red meat, so these turkey patties are a great way to satisfy a burger craving instead.

Seasoned with oregano and parsley, they’re especially tasty with a hefty drizzle of the Greek yogurt tzatziki sauce — so much better than plain old ketchup and mustard.

21. Harissa pasta

Although harissa is a spice paste from North Africa, it frequently makes an appearance in Mediterranean cooking, probably thanks to the geographic proximity of the regions.

Whatever the reason, we’re grateful because it makes this pasta possible.

22. Healthy Mediterranean chicken orzo

With oregano, basil, parsley, olives, and feta, this orzo is practically a hall of fame for Mediterranean cuisine’s biggest stars.

The fresh ingredients add flavor to the whole-wheat orzo and chicken, and if the taste alone isn’t incentive enough to make it, maybe the fact that it’s ready in fewer than 30 minutes will be!

The word “diet” is loaded AF (and for good reason), so we prefer to think of this as a Mediterranean lifestyle — sounds much more appealing, doesn’t it?

Fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and lean meats, coupled with aromatic spices, herbs, and plenty of olive oil — it’s no wonder this way of eating is so delicious.

But the good news doesn’t stop there. It also has many proven benefits, from reduced risk of cardiovascular disease Rosa Casas, et al. (2014). The effects of the Mediterranean diet on biomarkers of vascular wall inflammation and plaque vulnerability in subjects with high risk for cardiovascular disease. A randomized trial. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100084 to lowered inflammation Whalen KA, et al. (2016). Paleolithic and Mediterranean diet pattern scores are inversely associated with biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative balance in adults. DOI: 10.3945/jn.115.224048 to weight loss. Manicini JG, et al. (2015). Systematic review of the Mediterranean diet for long-term weight loss. DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.11.028

Wash it all down with a glass of heart-healthy red wine Haseeb S, et al. (2017). Wine and cardiovascular health: A comprehensive review. DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.030387 and close your eyes — you might just feel like you’re on vacation.

Mediterranean diet promotes healthier ageing

Mediterranean diet for healthier aging

A Mediterranean Diet alters the gut microbiome significantly and promotes healthier ageing, longevity, lowered inflammation, better bone strength, better cognitive function and memory.

A Rainbow diet of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, fish, whole grains and good fats can restore and regenerate the balance of the microbiome to promote good health. This five country European study (1) was led by Paul O’Toole, head of the School of Microbiology in the University of Cork, Ireland.

612 volunteers, all between 65 and 79 years of age adopted a typical Rainbow Diet for a full year. Analysis of the microbiome populations showed an increase in ‘good’ bacteria linked to stronger immune systems, lowered cholesterol, better brain function, stronger bones and a net decrease in ‘bad’ bacteria (pathogens) know to cause inflammation, chronic illness and frailty.

O’Toole said, “We have long known that the Mediterranean Diet full of fresh produce, olive oil and fish rather than meat, was good for you. The diet is linked to less inflammation, less frailty and better cognitive function.”

Researchers were particularly concerned where old people ate less and less. However, those that adhered closest to a Rainbow Diet ate more and clearly benefitted the most.

However, he warned that people who had ‘let themselves go’, might not simply be able to reverse the losses in their microbiome. If strains are extinct, that could be the end of it, whatever diet you employed.