Olive Oil

Q. What exactly is the Mediterranean diet?

A. There is no single “Mediterranean diet,” but traditional eating patterns commonly found in Mediterranean regions have been associated with health benefits, particularly for the heart. A large trial published last April in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet (supplemented with either extra-virgin olive oil or nuts) had a lower risk of heart attack or stroke after five years than those following a low-fat diet.

José Ordovás, a nutrition professor at Tufts University, says that a central component of traditional Mediterranean diets is extra-virgin olive oil, which is pressed from fresh olives and preserves beneficial chemicals in the fruit. The study also demonstrated benefits of eating nuts found in parts of the Mediterranean basin. These foods are just part of a diet that includes local and seasonal vegetables and fruits, fish and other seafood, legumes, whole grains, and some dairy products.

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