Fish, tomatoes, herbs and other food displayed on a chopping board

Mediterranean diet

Why the Mediterranean diet still matters

7 February 2023

When it comes to healthy eating, the Mediterranean diet has received plenty of attention - and for good reason. While other diets come and go, this is one way of eating that continues to be the gold standard for heart health. So much so that it has just been ranked the best diet of 2023.

U.S. News and World Report has placed the Mediterranean diet at the top of its list of best diets for the sixth year in a row.

The Mediterranean diet first came to prominence in the 1950s through the Seven Countries Study, which found that people living in countries like Italy and Greece had lower rates of cardiovascular disease. The common link between these countries was a diet rich in healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and wholegrains and lower in refined grains, red meats and heavily processed foods.

What the science tells us about the Mediterranean diet

The reason the Mediterranean diet has consistently come out on top is due to its focus on plant-based, nutrient-rich foods and healthy unsaturated fats.

Studies have shown that consuming a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In a 2018 study of over 25000 women for up to 12 years, following the Mediterranean diet was associated with a 28% reduced risk of cardiovascular events. This was mainly due to changes in blood sugar, body mass index (ie. body weight) and inflammation.

Along with reducing risk, there is also evidence that the diet has protective properties for those who already have heart disease. In a 2022 study, the Mediterranean diet was shown to be superior to a low fat diet for secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.

But it’s not just your heart health that stands to benefit from this plant-heavy diet. The Mediterranean diet has also been shown to lower your risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

How to incorporate the Mediterranean diet into your life

The Mediterranean diet is easy to follow and cost-effective. Simple ways you can reap the benefits of this heart-friendly way of eating include:

Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - The Home of Heart Research for 30 Years