Try the Mediterranean Lifestyle for Healthy Living

Try the Mediterranean Lifestyle for Healthy Living

Try the Mediterranean Lifestyle for Healthy Living

Images of Ikaria, Greece appear courtesy of Blue Zones.Lee esto en español

The setting sun. The clear blue sea. Meals filled with fresh foods like fruits, whole grains, beans, potatoes and olive oil. Doesn’t sound bad, right? The people of Ikaria, Greece, enjoy living well — even at very old ages.

In fact, people there live 10 years longer on average than those in the rest of Europe and America. One in 3 lives into their 90s. And they also have much lower rates of cancer and heart disease. They suffer less depression and dementia. And they are active well into their 90s.

What’s Ikaria's secret?

One of the keys to their happy life leaving site icon is the Mediterranean way of eating. They do not follow a “diet.” Rather, they and other Mediterranean cultures are living a healthy life.

Eat Like the Greeks
The Mediterranean diet involves:

  • Fresh food
  • Fats from olive oil and nuts
  • Lots of veggies like beans
  • Fruits
  • Eggs
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Small amounts of red meat
  • Herbs and spices for taste
  • Low sugar and few processed carbs

It’s not about just the food, but also the act of making meals and enjoying them among family and friends. The act of cooking, eating and cleaning up a meal is something that is done with others.

A large recent study leaving site icon showcased the value of the Mediterranean way of eating. The results were so telling that researchers stopped the study early so the control group could also enjoy the diet’s benefits. Some of the researchers even started eating that way, too.

Groups like the American Heart Association leaving site icon and The American Diabetes Association leaving site icon even back this approach to eating.

But keep in mind, eating this way is not a cure-all. You can still pack on the pounds if you eat too much. Exercise should still be a priority in a healthy life.

You don’t have to take a trip for a taste of the Greek life. Try this recipe to enjoy Mediterranean food at home:

Mediterranean Diet

Chickpeas with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Servings: Four
1 red onion, small, sliced into rings
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, diced
1 medium tomato, chopped
2½ cups chickpeas, canned, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup low-sodium vegetable stock
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and diced
Warm the oil in a large, nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and rosemary and cook, stirring frequently, for two to three minutes or until tender. Add the stock stock and chopped tomatoes. Cook for three to four minutes, or until all the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes and vinegar. Cook for one to two minutes, or until heated through.

Resources: Mediterranean Diet, leaving site icon American Heart Association, 2016; Eating Patterns and Meal Planning, leaving site icon American Diabetes Association, 2017; When Diet Meets Delicious, leaving site icon New York Times, 2013; The Island Where People Forget to Die, leaving site icon The Blue Zones Project, 2013; Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet, leaving site icon New England Journal of Medicine, 2013.

Originally published March 16, 2015: Revised 2019