Rx Nutrition Resource Center

Rx Nutrition Resource Center

May 28, 2019
3 min read

Mediterranean diet: What you need to know

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May is Mediterranean Diet Month, according to the American Diabetes Association’s Facebook page.

The diet, with its high intakes of cereals, extra-virgin olive oil, fruits, leafy green vegetables, nuts and pulses/legumes, moderate intakes of dairy products, fish and other meats, and red wine, and low intakes of eggs and sweets, was first defined approximately 50 years ago by Ancel Keys, PhD, a physiologist who taught at the University of Minnesota, according to an article in Nutrients.

In the decades since, a plethora of research has examined the effect the Mediterranean diet has on one’s health.

Amy Riolo, author of the ADA’s recent cookbook on the food plan, told Healio Primary Care pointed out a few basics that she said “need to be understood” before clinicians advise their patients on the Mediterranean diet or any food plan.

“Food is treated as medicine, moderation is key and an active physical and social lifestyle is mandatory,” she said.

Riolo also sought to clear up some misconceptions that some primary care physicians may have about the Mediterranean diet.

“When many doctors ‘prescribe’ the diet to their patients they tell them what to eat, but they do not give tips on making communal activities fit into your busy lifestyle, such as the right kinds of exercise, the importance of community and getting outdoors,” she said in the interview.

“If people enjoy the lifestyle first, the diet becomes second nature and very easy to live by naturally. It is only when we focus on the food alone that it seems like a lot of work or hard to do,” Riolo continued.

In recognition of May as Mediterranean Diet Month, Healio Primary Care compiled some of its recent coverage on the research surrounding the food plan. – by Janel Miller

Mediterranean Diet 
In recognition of May as Mediterranean Diet Month, Healio Primary Care compiled some of its recent coverage on the research surrounding the food plan.

Mediterranean diet effective for primary prevention of CVD

A Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or mixed nuts lowered the risk for CVD in high-risk patients, according to research published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Read more.

Identifying Mediterranean-diet adhering populations may temper obesity crisis

Adherence to a Mediterranean diet varies greatly across the United States, and pinpointing the areas where residents are most likely to follow such a dietary plan may aid in public health policy-making, according to study findings presented at the European Congress on Obesity annual meeting. Read more.

Mediterranean diet-based nutrition therapy linked to improved gestational diabetes outcomes

Women with gestational diabetes assigned to medical nutrition therapy based on the Mediterranean diet for 3 months experienced an improvement in glycemic profile at delivery that was comparable to pregnant women with normal glucose tolerance, study data show. Read more.

Mediterranean diet improves cognitive function in older adults

Adhering to a Mediterranean-style diet was associated with better cognition and brain function and a lower risk for cognitive impairment in older adults, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Read more.

Mediterranean diet more effective than other diets at lowering prostate cancer risk

Men who followed the Mediterranean diet had a lower risk for aggressive prostate cancer compared with those opting for other popular diet breakdowns, according to findings published in The Journal of Urology. Read more.

Mediterranean diet lowers risk for air pollution-related complications

Among other benefits, the Mediterranean diet reduced risks for complications often linked to long-term exposure to air pollutants, according to findings presented at an American Thoracic Society International Conference. Read more.

Mediterranean diet may slow psoriasis progression

Patients with severe psoriasis had low adherence to the Mediterranean diet, suggesting that following the diet may slow the advancement of the condition, according to findings published in JAMA Dermatology. Read more.

Mediterranean diet may protect against late-life depression

Data presented at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting suggest that adhering to a Mediterranean diet may protect against the development of depressive symptoms in older age. Read more.

Mediterranean diet increases life span

The Mediterranean diet was linked to prolonged survival in two different studies spanning multiple age groups, according to findings published in the British Journal of Nutrition. Read more.

Adherence to Mediterranean diet improves teens grades

The Mediterranean diet, one that includes frequent consumption of fruits and vegetables, breads, legumes, nuts and seeds, with most fats consumed through olive oil, has positive effects on teenagers’ academic performance, according to findings published in Acta Paedtriatrica. Read more.

Why the DASH and Mediterranean diets do not work for patients on dialysis


Patients on hemodialysis experience a high mortality risk of 10% to 20%. This is at least 10 times higher than in the general population. There have been decades of research, but no high-quality evidence that specific treatments or preventive strategies can reduce mortality in this setting. Read more.


Davis CD, et al. Nutrients. 2015;doi:10.3390/nu7115459.

Sevencountriesstudy.com. “Ancel Keys.” https://www.sevencountriesstudy.com/about-the-study/investigators/ancel-keys/. Accessed May 16, 2019.

Disclosure: Riolo is author of the American Diabetes Association publication The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd Edition: A Flavorful, Heart-Healthy Approach to Cooking.