Try the Mediterranean Lifestyle for Healthy Living

Try the Mediterranean Lifestyle for Healthy Living

A warm golden sun. A shimmering blue sea. Meals laden with mouth-watering fresh fruits, earthy whole grains, beans and potatoes. Their distinctive flavors sometimes enhanced with local olive oil. Sounds pretty good, right? The people of Ikaria, Greece, enjoy living well — even at very old ages.

In fact, it’s been called “The island where people forget to die.” Its residents live 10 years longer on average than individuals in the rest of Europe and America. One in three lives into their 90s. They also have much lower rates of cancer and heart disease. They suffer less depression and dementia. And they are active well into their 90s.

What’s Ikaria's Secret?

One of the keys to their happy life leaving site icon is the Mediterranean way of eating. Ikaria residents don’t follow a “diet.” Like most Mediterranean cultures, healthy lifestyle choices seem to come naturally as part of their day-to-day routine.

Eat Like the Greeks

The Mediterranean diet features lots of foods fresh from the sea and local farms, including:

  • Fats from olive oil and nuts
  • Veggies
  • Fruits
  • Eggs
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Red meat in small amounts
  • Herbs and spices for taste
  • Low sugar and few processed carbs

It’s not just about the ingredients, but about the act of making meals and enjoying them with family and friends. Cooking and eating a meal is done with others.

Groups like the American Heart Association leaving site icon and The American Diabetes Association leaving site icon back this approach to eating.

You don’t have to take a trip for a taste of the Greek life. Try this recipe to enjoy Mediterranean food at home.

Chickpeas with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Servings: Four


1 red onion, small, sliced into rings
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, diced
1 medium tomato, chopped
2½ cups chickpeas, canned, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup low-sodium vegetable stock
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and diced


Warm the oil in a large, nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and rosemary. Stir frequently for two to three minutes, or until tender. Add the stock and chopped tomatoes. Cook for three to four minutes, or until all the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes and vinegar. Cook for one to two minutes until heated through.

Resources: Six Longevity Tips from and Island Where People Regularly Live Healthy Lives Past 100, leaving site icon Well + Good, 2022; What Is the Mediterranean Diet, leaving site icon American Heart Association, 2020; Meal Planning, leaving site icon American Diabetes Association, 2020; The Island Where People Forget to Die, leaving site icon The Blue Zones Project, 2022; Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet, leaving site icon New England Journal of Medicine, 2013.

Originally published 3/16/2015: Revised 2019, 2022