Mediterranean food conjures up the definition of the good life: basking in the sun with a good bottle of wine, eating pasta with olives, tomato sauce, some feta cheese, a splash of olive oil, and a wedge of focaccia bread. It’s a picture of“la dolce vita,” the sweet life.

Lose Weight the Mediterranean Way

(Pixabay / KRiemer)

A closer look at Mediterranean diets, however, reveals a way of eating that can support weight loss and long-term health. Mediterranean diets include the traditional healthy habits of people who inhabit the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. The diets feature plenty of plant-based foods, including fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. The diets advocate for replacing fats like butter with healthier alternatives, including olive and canola oil.

Mediterranean people typically eat six or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The grains in their diets are typically whole grain with very little unhealthy trans fats. Bread is dipped in olive oil—not margarine. A Mediterranean diet also includes nuts, which are high in healthy fats.

The Mediterranean diet does not limit the consumption of fat. Instead, it is focused on choosing healthier types of fats and leaving behind saturated fats, hydrogenated oils and trans fats,which can contribute to heart disease.

While salt is the main flavoring in Western-style meals, especially fast foods, the Mediterranean diet has a healthy alternative. Instead of flavoring food with heavy salt, herbs are used to add intensity and layers to different dishes.

The Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest in the world. Unlike other diets, it need not feel limiting or punishing. It offers plenty of options for fresh, delicious, varied meals.