Mediterranean diet is the food habit followed by at least 16 countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. There is no particular diet plan to be singled out purely `Mediterranean'. It varies between these countries and also between regions within a country.

The common Mediterranean dietary pattern, however, has certain characteristics. More than half the fat calories in a Mediterranean diet come from monounsaturated fats (mainly from olive oil). Monounsaturated fat doesn't raise blood cholesterol levels the way saturated fat does.

The incidence of heart disease in Mediterranean countries is lower than in the United States. Death rates are lower, too. Here are the top five benefits of following a Mediterranean diet:

1) The Mediterranean diet is all about variety and moderation. It consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, lentils and chick peas, whole grains, fish, nuts, unsaturated fatty acids. Mediterranean diet also contains wine, dairy products and meat, all in moderate amounts.

2) People having regular Mediterranean diet are less prone to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, studies have found. The Mediterranean diet is also found increasing the life span of patients by cutting down mortality rate, besides preventing the risk of developing diseases affecting the heart. The diet is also linked to reduced incidence of diabetes and cancer

3) Mediterranean Diet plan avoids unhealthy saturated fats in meats and dairy products, and trans-fats in hydrogenated oils found in many processed foods.

4) The Mediterranean diet encourages the consumption of healthy polyunsaturated fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids and mono-unsaturated fats. It doesn't cut down on fats, as many people think.

5) Mediterranean diet comprises large amounts of plant-based foods. It contains only unprocessed foods. The nature-friendly diet ingredients can be produced through farming and so it doesn't make any environmental impact. It encourages community nutrition, while ensuring food security.