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What Is the Mediterranean Diet?

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Focus on healthy fats.

Although Mediterranean residents don’t consume a low-fat diet, their dietary pattern is considered heart-healthy. How can that be?

Not all fats are created equal. People in the Mediterranean consume more of the healthier types of fats (monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids) and less of the omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and saturated fats other cultures tend to overload on.

Don’t like fish? You can get omega-3 fatty acids in other ways, such as with fish oil supplements or by eating lots of fresh herbs, walnuts, and flaxseeds.

Instead of focusing on total fat intake, these folks maintain a healthier ratio of these different groups of fats than you see in the United States; they consume about 35 percent of their total daily calories from fat, but less than 8 percent of their calories come from saturated fats.

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the average intake of saturated fats in the United States is 11 percent of daily calories.

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