The people of Greece, Italy and all other mediterranean countries have a much lower cholesterol levels and far fewer heart attacks than North Americans, researchers have tried to determine why. Many have concluded that the answer lies in their diet.
In contrast to the typical Norht American diet, wine is a regular feature of the Mediterranean diet. The bilk of the diet consists of pasta, bread, grains and other starches, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and beans.
Consumed regularly, about every other day, are cheese and yogurt, olives and olive oil. Sweets, eggs, poltry and fish are served frequently, a few times a week. Least often consumed is red meat, which is typically served in small portions, only a few times each month.
The Mediterranean does not specify exact serving sizes, as a rule of thumb Western nutritionists recommend eating more pasta, grains, breads, fruits and vegetables, legumes, yogurt, cheese, and olives or oil, and less poultry and fish, sweets, eggs, and especially red meats.
Over 30 percent of total calories in the typical Mediterranean diet come from fats, mostly monosaturated olive oil. Nutritionists note that the diet provides more fat and calories than what is generally recommended for most North Americans, but because so many Mediterranean people have a physical demanding occupation, they are less likely to gain weight.