Research suggests that people living in countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea live longer and are diagnosed with cancer and heart disease less than other regions. It’s no wonder that their diet was named the top weight loss diet in 2019 by US News and World Report. Although the Mediterranean diet can vary depending on which Mediterranean country you’re talking about (there are 21 countries that border the Mediterranean Sea), the staple foods are similar. They include fish, fruit, vegetables, grains, herbs, and spices with small amounts of red meat and dairy.

Lots of exercise is encouraged as is enjoying meals with family and friends. Toby Amidor, dietitian and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen and other health books, shares 12 foods that are central to this healthy lifestyle and the benefits of each.