Although commonly called the “Mediterranean diet,” it may be more accurate to say the “Mediterranean way” because along with diet, being physically active and drinking wine in moderation are components. The pleasures of enjoying food and sharing meals with family and friends are also key parts of the plan.
Food-wise, the Mediterranean plan reflects the traditional eating patterns in countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea. It highlights fruits and vegetables, nuts like almonds, herbs and spices, olive oil and whole grains, with small amounts of fish, meat and low-fat dairy foods.
Compared to a traditional American diet, the greatest shifts are the increase in plant foods and plant-based meals. A Mediterranean way of eating essentially flips the plate, so that plant foods – seasonal vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains – become the stars of your meals. Thankfully, there are many great recipes that you can follow to begin incorporating meals inspired by the Mediterranean way of eating into your day.
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the Mediterranean way of eating is its emphasis on “good fats.” Olive oil and nuts, such as almonds, are examples of the types of unsaturated fats that are a key part of recipes and meals.
This revered eating style has been the subject of great interest among nutrition researchers over the years, which has led to the ongoing PREDIMED trial – the largest randomized primary prevention trial investigating the effects of the Mediterranean diet pattern on major chronic disease risk. The PREDIMED trials placed special emphasis on improved consumption of tree nuts and extra virgin olive oil and have investigated the effects of this eating pattern on cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, blood pressure and abdominal obesity among other health indicators.
Almonds, other tree nuts, and olives are grown in California, one of the few places with a Mediterranean climate outside of the Mediterranean itself. California Almond farmers are committed to growing a food that’s not only good for you, but also produced in a way that’s responsible.
Almond farmers make the most of each part of the almond fruit that is produced: The shells go to various alternative farming uses like livestock bedding, the hull is sold as valuable livestock feed, reducing the need to grow other feed crops, and the kernel is the nutrient-rich almond that we eat.
Furthermore, a recent Lifecycle Assessment study published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology shows that almond trees absorb and store significant amounts of carbon, a potent greenhouse gas, over their lifetimes.1 With further improvements in production practices and policy changes, the study authors noted that it’s realistic that the California almond industry could become carbon neutral or even carbon negative.2
1Elias Marvinney, Alissa Kendall, Sonja Brodt, Weiyuan Zhu. Life Cycle-based Assessment of Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Almond Production, Part II: Uncertainty Analysis Through Sensitivity Analysis and Scenario Testing. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 2015, 10.1111/jiec.12333.
2Kendall, A., Marvinney, E., Brodt, S. and Zhu, W. (2015), Life Cycle–based Assessment of Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Almond Production, Part I: Analytical Framework and Baseline Results. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 19: 1008–1018. doi: 10.1111/jiec.12332