The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts/beans/seeds, and heart healthy fats. It contains whole grains, fish, limited amounts of poultry, red meat, and dairy (primarily cultured or cheese products). It may also include moderate amounts of red wine. And since it is the Mediterranean, the people get lots of vitamin D, courtesy of the sun.
Compare the Mediterranean Diet
with the DASH Diet
One thing the Mediterranean diet is not, is the kind of meals that you would get at a typical American Italian restaurant. It is, instead, more typical of very rural, seacoast towns, where the diet is more based on freshly grown foods, breads made from ground whole grains, lots of fresh-picked greens, vegetables, and seafood. So if dining at an Italian restaurant doesn't give you a real Med diet plan, how do you follow it?
Well, now we have the home-grown DASH diet merged with the Med diet. Like the Med diet, DASH is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts/beans/seeds, along with low-fat and nonfat dairy, and includes whole grains, heart healthy fats, and moderate amounts of lean meat/fish/poultry. Most vitamin D for Americans will come from fortified dairy products. (Although not specifically recommended in the DASH diet program, many people could benefit from a vitamin D supplement. Please check first with your physician to see if you need to supplement. People who use sunscreen, have darker skins, or live in regions where there is little direct sunlight much of the year, may not produce enough of the "sunshine" vitamin.)
The main difference between the Mediterranean diet and the original DASH diet research is the higher amount of heart healthy fat. And, if you want to make room for red wine, take care to avoid adding extra calories. The new book, The DASH Diet Mediterranean Solution is based on newer DASH research, and incorporates the Med diet. In fact, when we incorporate more of the heart healthy fats, and less of the refined starchy or added-sugar foods, we can improve blood pressure even better than with the orginal DASH plan.
The Med-DASH plan is especially good for heart health, and targets people who carry their excess weight around their middle, people with metabolic syndrome, high triglycerides, diabetes, prediabetes, and/or hypertension, who are postmenopausal, or who have PCOS.