What is a Mediterranean diet, why is it considered healthy and what are some of the best recipes?

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THE Mediterranean diet is that food that is typically eaten by those living in countries that border the Mediterranean sea.

These countries include France, Greece, Italy and Spain, and anyone whose visited these countries will know just how great the food can be – and how you end missing it on your return.

What is a Mediterranean diet?

A Mediterranean diet is high in foods that are good for you, and low in naughty foods, such as those with a high sugar content.

The NHS explains: “The Mediterranean diet varies by country and region, so it has a range of definitions.

“But in general, it’s high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil.

“It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods.”

Butter is often replaced with healthy fats such as olive oil, and salt is substituted for herbs and spices to flavour food.

It has less red meat but lots of poultry and fish, and includes liberal amounts of red wine.

And while it’s not a foodstuff, exercise and eating meals with family and friends is characterised by the Med diet.

Why is it considered so healthy?

This diet has been proven to be beneficial for the heart, even helping to reduce the risk of heart disease.

This is partly due to the foods having less ‘bad’ cholesterol, which is what builds up and clogs the arteries.

The NHS says: “The Mediterranean diet has been linked with good health, including a healthier heart.”

And it has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

People who follow this diet are also said to have a longer life expectancy and don’t put on weight easily.

What are some of the best recipes?

There’s plenty of delicious Mediterranean recipes, but you can make overall changes in your diet to make it healthier.

The NHS recommends:

  • Eating plenty of starchy foods, such as bread and pasta
  • Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Including fish in your diet
  • Eating less meat
  • Choosing products made from vegetable and plant oils, such as olive oil

And BBC Good Food has a selection of easy recipes you can follow.

These include shaved fennel, courgette and orange salad and spring chicken paella.

We love the simple fish stew.

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