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What Happens to Your Body On the Mediterranean Diet

Loved by experts for its incredible health benefits, here's what you can expect by following the Mediterranean diet.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino
mediterranean platter

The Mediterranean Diet has exploded in popularity over the past few years, and it's not just because following it evokes feeling like you are dining on a Greek island or at an Italian villa overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Following this diet has been linked to countless health benefits and is a sustainable and delicious way of eating.

One beautiful thing about the Mediterranean Diet is that it is not really a diet in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a lifestyle that emulates the way people live in the Mediterranean region. Meals are enjoyed in the company of others, food isn't wolfed down in a drive-through parking lot, and physical activity is practiced every day.

Of course, food choices are an important factor of this diet/lifestyle too. Nutrient-dense and balanced is the name of the game when building your Mediterranean Diet plate. You won't find pre-packaged, fried, sugary, or highly processed foods on Mediterranean plates. Instead, you will find some nutrient-dense dietary all-stars like:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Olive oil
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains
  • Fish, eggs, lean beef, and chicken (not fried!)

So, why adopt the Mediterranean Diet and lifestyle? Here are 8 things that can happen to your body after you start living like those who live by the Mediterranean Sea. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

1

You may have a reduced risk of heart disease.

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Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. And while some risk factors are completely out of your control—think genetics and age, as examples—others are totally modifiable.

Diet is one factor that can help your body combat heart disease risk if you are choosing the right foods. And following the Mediterranean Diet has been linked to a reduced heart disease risk in various studies.

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2

You may lose weight.

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From intermittent fasting to keto to super-trendy juice cleanses, weight loss solutions are a dime a dozen. Unfortunately, while many of these diets will result in weight loss in the short term, the effects will not be long-lasting.

Following the Mediterranean Diet is linked to long-term weight loss, and has even been shown to be more effective than a low-fat diet when people are trying to lose weight. For more, check out 5 Weight Loss Benefits People Have Experienced on the Mediterranean Diet.

3

You may have a reduced risk of Alzheimer's Disease.

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Developing Alzheimer's Disease is a common concern for many people of a certain age especially. Rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, and other brain health-supporting nutrients, the Mediterranean Diet is one that has been shown to be linked to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease.

4

You may live longer.

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Perhaps we can call the Mediterranean Diet a pseudo fountain of youth. In one study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, greater adherence to the Mediterranean Diet was linked to a reduced risk of early death due to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and all-causes.

5

You may reduce your risk of stroke.

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Stroke risk can be reduced simply by eating more olive oil, nuts, fruits, and veggies—AKA following the Mediterranean Diet. In fact, after evaluating 25 studies, researchers found that greater adherence to following this dietary pattern is linked to a reduced risk of stroke.

6

You may experience stronger bones.

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Bone health is something that everyone should think about, especially when they are younger and bone mass is being built. While focusing on bone-building nutrients like calcium and vitamin D is critically important for bone health, following the Mediterranean Diet may offer some benefits too, especially for certain specific populations.

One reason why the Mediterranean Diet may be so good for bone health is that olive oil is a staple in this pattern. Since people who eat a Mediterranean Diet enriched with olive oil every day have been shown to have more markers of bone formation according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, the inclusion of this healthy fat may be one reason why the Mediterranean Diet is such a positive bone-building diet.

7

You may experience improved fertility.

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You can quite literally fuel your fertility by the foods you choose to eat. For people who have dreams of welcoming a little bundle of joy into their lives, following the Mediterranean Diet may support their fertility.

Studies show that both men and women who are trying to conceive benefit from high adherence to the Mediterranean Diet, with outcomes like a higher clinical pregnancy rate and healthier sperm.

8

You may have a healthy pregnancy.

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When you are "eating for two", following the Mediterranean Diet may reduce the risk of having a child with asthma, of gaining too much weight during pregnancy, and of giving birth prematurely. Plus, since the Mediterranean Diet encourages the consumption of fiber-rich foods like produce and beans, following this dietary pattern may help combat some pregnancy constipation symptoms as well.

Sound like this diet is right for you? Read up on these 9 Things to Know Before Starting the Mediterranean Diet first!

Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, CLEC
Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian, book author, and recipe developer who has been in practice for almost 20 years. Read more