As part of its ranking of the best weight-loss diets, US News awarded the Mediterranean diet third place in the “Best Diets Overall” category. And for good reason.
Adopting this style of eating is healthy for many reasons. Those who follow the diet's basic principles lose a lot more than weight; they also reduce inflammation, blood pressure, and LDL cholesterol and lower their risk of cancer and heart disease.
The best part? Dieters are anything but deprived; they can choose from a wide array of delicious, satisfying foods.
The Mediterranean diet centers around fresh plant foods (as much as a pound of day of veggies and fruit), whole grains, pulses (beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils), nuts, seeds, olive oil, fish, herbs, and spices. Poultry and dairy products can be enjoyed in moderation—along with red wine.
Researchers believe the benefits of the diet stem from its emphasis on monounsaturated fats (from avocado, fish, and olive oil) as well as its high fiber, which slows digestion and prevents blood sugar spikes.
A review of recent studies shows that overweight people who adopted this style of eating lost between 5 and 18 pounds over a period ranging from one to two year. Those who incorporated exercise into their routine are the ones who lost the most weight.
"Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet" by Kathleen M. Zelman, www.webmd.com, 2008
“Best Weight-Loss Diets” US News, http://health.usnews.com
“Body Composition Changes and Cardiometabolic Benefits of a Balanced Italian Mediterranean Diet in Obese Patients with Metabolic Syndrome” by N. Di Daniele et al., Acta Diabetol, 11/28/12
“Dietary Patterns, Inflammation, and the Metabolic Syndrome” by N. Ahluwalia et al., Diabetes Metab, 10/10/12
“Effects of a 2-y Dietary Weight-loss Intervention on Cholesterol Metabolism . . .” by A. B. Leichtle et al., Am J Clin Nutr, 11/11