The Mediterranean diet consistently ranks as one of the best diets to follow.

It's based on the traditional eating habits of countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea like Italy and Greece in the 1950s and 1960s. In the Seven Countries Study, Mediterranean populations had some of the longest lifespans globally.

Studies show following this sort of eating can help with various health issues, including managing type 2 diabetes, reducing blood pressure and lowering cholesterol whilst helping with weight loss.

Variations occur depending on local ingredients but they all have common eating patterns that help make the Mediterranean diet a healthy diet to follow.

This article goes through the easiest ways you can start eating a more Mediterranean friendly diet today.

1. Eat Plenty of Whole Grains
Grains have a bad reputation at the moment. This is because when refined in foods like white bread and white pasta, they are associated higher risks of lower risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cholesterol and more.

However, unrefined whole grains contain lots of nutrients and minerals. These include iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and B vitamins. They are also high in fiber.

One study found eating whole grains multiple times a day resulted in a 30% reduction from deaths related to inflammation conditions.

If you're already eating bread, pasta and rice, then just simply get the brown alternatives. Also try including healthy grains like oats and quinoa too.

2. Cook With Olive Oil
Olive oil is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats.

When these fats replace saturated in your diet, they can help reduce your risk of heart disease.

Extra-virgin olive oil can reduce inflammation, which may be one of the main reasons for its health benefits. It has also been shown to reduce LDL (the "bad") cholesterol.

Try using olive oil instead of butter or adding extra to your salads.

3. Make Nuts and Seeds Your Go-To Snack
Nuts are high in healthy unsaturated fats and are a great source of several nutrients, including vitamin E, magnesium, and selenium.

Although they are known to have a high calorie density, they have actually been shown to help with weight loss rather than contribute to weight gain. Studies seem to suggest this is because your body doesn't absorb all of the calories in nuts.

They are also really easy to include in your diet. They can be enjoyed whole as an on-the-go snack, as nut butters, or chopped up and sprinkled on food.

4. Ditch the Salt For Herbs and Spices
Excessive salt intake can lead to increased blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease. Why not substitute in different spices into your food that can really elevate your cooking and keep your healthy?

Many also have significant health benefits. For example, studies have shown ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and cinnamon can help lower blood sugar levels.

Try different combinations and bring the fun back into your cooking.

5. Include One or More Portions of Fatty Fish a Week
Mediterranean cuisines border the Mediterranean Sea, so it's not surprising that fish is a staple amongst these regions.

Fish contains lots of protein and low amounts of saturated fat. Fatty fish like mackerel, sardines and salmon also contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. These have been linked with reduced risk of heart disease improving and an improvement in cognitive functions.

One study found those who regularly ate 2-4 servings of fish per week had a 15% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Author's Bio: 

Alex is the founder of Medmunch, a website which helps make the Mediterranean diet practical for everyday life.