Well, to begin with, there isn't really any one Mediterranean Diet! There's a whole swag of countries bordering Mediterranean Sea. The basic Mediterranean Diet has common characteristics even if sourrounding countries differ in culture, language and recipes to some extent.
* an extensive intake of fruits, vegetables, bread and cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds * olive oil is a source of mono-unsaturated fat - common to Mediterranean area * some dairy products, fish and even poultry are consumed in sparing to moderate amounts, and some red meat(not much) * eggs are consumed in low to moderate amount say 1 to 4 eggs a week * fortunately wine is acceptable but in low quantities ie. 1 - 3 glasses per day
A good question to ask is - Does a Mediterranean-style diet follow American Heart Association dietary guidelines?
Mediterranean-style diets are often close to US dietary guidelines, but not exactly.
People who follow average Mediterranean diet eat less saturated fat than those who eat average American diet. In fact, saturated fat consumption is well within US dietary guidelines. More than half fat calories in a Mediterranean diet come from mono-unsaturated fats (mainly from olive oil). Mono-unsaturated fat doesn't raise blood cholesterol levels way saturated fat does.
The incidence of heart disease in Mediterranean countries is lower than in United States. Death rates are lower, too. However there are some who feel this may not be entirely due to diet. Lifestyle factors (ie. more physical activity and extended social family support structures) may also play a part. At this stage this is just a theory. However research tells all - diet has existed for umpteen years.
If you would like further proof of mediterranean diet benefits resulting from research and qualified researchers you could try visiting http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/short/348/26/2599 or http://my.webmd.com/content/article/67/80070.htm. Both of these sites give good 'food for thought'(excuse pun).
"Olive oil plays a central role, but it is not alone," says Dimitrios Trichopoulos, MD, PhD, of Harvard School of Public Health.
"It's among divine mix of several factors that, when used in combination, help provide strong evidence of something that is very important -- eating proper diet can significantly reduce your risk of early death."
He and researchers from Greece studied some 22,000 adults, aged 20 to 86, from all regions of that country; most previous studies tracked only older people who were more likely to die during study. The participants answered detailed questionnaires about their eating habits throughout four-year study. Then they were rated on how closely they followed key principles of Mediterranean diet.