A new book by cardiologist-chef Steven Masley, M.D. — titled The Mediterranean Method — is a concise, reader- and cook-friendly guide to a delicious, healthful diet.

The Mediterranean Method features 50 recipes and dozens of kitchen tips plus revealing, motivating facts about research into the diet’s salutary effects.

Sprinkled with anecdotes about his patients, Dr. Masley also does a great job of summarizing the scientific evidence and explanations for the diet’s health benefits, often in the form of succinct sidebars.

It’s obvious that The Mediterranean Method was a labor of love for Masley, who’s a trained, seasoned chef as well as a cardiologist, nutritionist, and host of his own PBS-TV program.

He’s also the best-selling author of several books, including Ten Years Younger, The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up, Smart Fat, and The Better Brain Solution.

Before beginning medical school, Dr. Masley served as captain and cook on a yacht sailing the Mediterranean, and he took advantage of that to collect coastal culinary treasures from France, Italy, Sardinia, Spain, Greece, and the Aegean islands.

To prepare for this writing project, Dr. Masley dug deeply into research on the diet — and returned to sail the Mediterranean region with his wife Nicole, seeking out more local food traditions and secrets.

In short, The Mediterranean Method is a lively, kitchen-oriented guide from a wellness-oriented physician who’s traveled, shopped, cooked, and dined in the lands where the Mediterranean Diet was born.

What to expect from The Mediterranean Method
Dr. Masley begins his book by covering the history and featured foods of the Mediterranean diet, and then proceeds to explore its impacts on weight, heart, brain, and gut health and reveal the foods and nutrients behind each benefit.

We’ve covered research on the Mediterranean diet and its extra-virgin olive oil many times — to view those articles, just search the Vital Choice website for “Mediterranean diet”.

Based on that experience, it’s clear that Dr. Masley’s book is a reliable guide to its cultural and scientific history — and its handy kitchen tips and 50 recipes constitute much more than icing on this reader-friendly cake. The Mediterranean Method is available at bookstores and various online retailers.

The “traditional” Mediterranean diet isn't exactly traditional
The Mediterranean diet is a modern construct that dates back only a few decades.

And it doesn’t accurately reflect the traditional Aegean and Italian diets upon which it’s purportedly and primarily based, which featured substantially more meat and animal fat.

Nonetheless, there’s good evidence that today’s idealized “Mediterranean diet” yields far better health outcomes than those produced by low-fat diets and the standard American diet.

More importantly, the available evidence doesn’t really support the tight restrictions on animal fats and red meats that characterize the Mediterranean diet as described by Dr. Masley and others — see Saturated Fats Seen to Reduce Cardio Risk Factors. 

Those strictures result in much less animal fat (e.g., butter) and red meat than the average American eats, but recent research convincingly confirms that whole, unprocessed animal foods aren't responsible for this country's high rates of heart disease and diabetes.

Instead, the available evidence confirms that Americans' excessive consumption of junky fare — refined carbohydrates (sugars and white flour goods), cheap, omega-6-laden vegetable oils, and processed foods — accounts for the stubborn persistence and prevalence of these chronic diseases.

At this point, we’ll let Dr. Masley describe his own book, in the form of an excerpt from its introduction. 

Introduction to The Mediterranean Method
By Steven Masley, M.D.

The world-famous Mediterranean diet is based upon the eating habits of people living around the Mediterranean Sea. It has an almost unlimited diversity of fresh and delicious foods.

More specifically, the Mediterranean diet features an abundance of vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, herbs, and spices; moderate amounts of seafood and poultry; the use of extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter and unhealthy fats; and with meals, moderate consumption of red wine (in most regions). When Mediterranean peoples eat grains, they traditionally reach for whole grains such as barley, millet, farro, wheat berries, or bulgur.

What the Mediterranean diet has avoided is processed foods, sugar, artificial flavors, refined flour, and unhealthy fats. In contrast to crazy fad diets that tell you what not to eat, this diet focuses on the right foods to add, saving treats for special occasions. Those trendy diets come and go, but the time-tested Mediterranean eating plan has been around for thousands of years.

The diverse and flavorful foods are wonderful — but there is another plus to the Mediterranean diet. It is the best diet for your health, and in polls like U.S. News & World Report’s annual diet roundup, it consistently ranks as the #1 diet on the planet, as rated by nutritionists, researchers, doctors, and other health-care experts.

To wit: Native Mediterranean dwellers have some of the longest life spans ever recorded, living — disease free — into their 80s, 90s, and beyond. They are slimmer and have less obesity. They have lower rates for heart disease, memory loss, and cancer. The people of Spain, who tend to follow the Mediterranean diet closely, have the longest life span and the best health of any country in the Western world.

Here’s another reason that the Mediterranean way of eating gets so many votes as the world’s best all-around diet: It’s very easy to follow. Recipes are fun and easy to prepare, and your family and friends will love the meals that you’ll serve.

Many know me as a doctor who integrates nutrition, physical activity, and informed lifestyle choices as the keys to achieving optimum wellness and longevity. But few know that I’m as devoted to great-tasting food as I am to great health. Being able to bring you the Mediterranean diet is a dream come true — a perfect combination of two passions that happen to be both personal and professional.