Once you acknowledge how unhealthy the Standard American Diet (SAD) is, what do you do instead? For five years in a row, the Mediterranean diet has been rated the best diet by health experts. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and Flexitarian (mostly plant-based but allowing meat occasionally) diets are tied for second place, and the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) is in fourth place. What these diets have in common is that they are not “diets” in the traditional sense of the word because they are not about restricting what you eat but instead developing a healthy lifestyle.
The Mediterranean Diet follows some basic principles:
- Eat mostly plant-based, whole foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices at every meal
- Eat fish and seafood often, at least twice a week
- Eat poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt less often and in moderation
- Red meat and sweets should be seldom eaten; avoid processed foods and deli meats
- Drink mostly water, tea or coffee with little or no sugar. Avoid sugary drinks.
- Enjoy red wine in moderation, a glass a day for women and two a day for men
- Stay physically active and enjoy your meals with others
The Mediterranean diet offers health benefits that the SAD does not. In upcoming articles, we’ll take a closer look at these benefits, as well as a more detailed breakdown of foods you should include in your diet as well as those to avoid.