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For the third year in a row, the U.S. News and World Report has named the Mediterranean diet the best diet overall in their annual rankings. The heart-healthy, long-term dietary plan focuses on fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains and calls for reducing unhealthy fats and sugars. Studies and anecdotal reports suggest adopting these eating practices could help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and decrease the risk of heart disease and other illnesses, such as cancer and Alzheimer's. Best of all, the foods encouraged on the Mediterranean diet are available throughout most of North America.

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1. Focus on Plant-Based Foods

The Mediterranean diet focuses on plant-based foods -- fruits, vegetables, and grains -- to fill the bulk of your nutritional needs. Add salads, steamed or grilled vegetables, fresh-cut fruit and a handful of nuts to your daily diet in place of fried or sugary snacks and side dishes. Pack a bag of grapes or apple slices for your midafternoon snack, and fill up on salad before the main course at each meal. Try to stick to organic, healthy options rather than prepackaged foods.

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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.