Whether your focus is on cancer prevention, weight loss, heart health, or just maintaining good health, you can’t ignore the significant benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. Just when you think that the research-backed rationale for this diet is old news, new evidence puts it back on the radar. As a health fact, making the eating habits of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea the basis of your dietary plans is a smart move.
Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
There are multiple benefits, but the most significant ones are related to weight and chronic disease risk. Going on this diet helps to prevent diabetes and heart disease. A large study that was published on the Mediterranean diet showed that people who followed the diet plan had a significantly reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The overall weight and health status of the people in the trial didn’t have a significant difference, but the diet influenced more outcomes.
This diet also contributes to weight loss and maintenance of healthy weight. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that when compared to a variety of diet plans, following this diet with an overall calorie restriction was more effective at promoting weight loss than just a low-fat diet or other dietary plans. Although this diet tends to be higher in fat than others, simply watching your calorie intake and following this dietary plan will help lead to a significant weight reduction and maintenance over time.
Keep in mind as well that it’s never too late to see the benefits of the Mediterranean lifestyle. Even a late adoption of the diet can increase your longevity and reduce the risk of chronic disease for elderly individuals as well as other segments of the population. So even if you can’t see making a lifestyle change later in life, you may want to reconsider based on the potential benefits for all ages. And, if you’re interested in longevity, remember that Cretans live longer than other populations throughout the world. Longevity is just one of the many benefits of this diet.
Keystones of the Mediterranean Diet
While this diet does not have specific dos and don’ts there are some general guidelines which should be followed for the greatest benefits. One keystone is consuming monounsaturated fats, the most popular of which is olive oil. You can also enjoy avocado, fish, and canola oils. These fats are anti-inflammatory, fight disease on a cellular level and can be effective in reducing oxidative stress. However, you should consume even these healthy fats in moderation.
You’ll also want to change the way that you season your food. Use herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods. Along with limitings salt, you’ll also limit red meat. When you’re following this diet, fish and poultry make the most of your meats but red meat should just be enjoyed a few times a month. All meat proteins are consumed in moderation though in favor of vegetables, grains, and legumes.
You’ll also want to consume a primarily plant-based diet. Plants are a cornerstone and Greeks eat an average of 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. You may have trouble reaching this amount, but aim for this goal when you’re on the diet. If you’re struggling to consume more fruits and vegetables, remember that they should be replacing processed foods. A hallmark of the Mediterranean lifestyle is avoiding processed foods in favor or fresh and preferably local foods.
Other keystones include whole grains, red wine in moderation, and nuts to fill out your meals and add some variety. With these keystones of your diet, you’ll be making sure to contribute to a lifestyle filled with real food and good health will follow.
Get Smart with the Mediterranean Diet
The jury is clear on the benefits of this diet plan. While you can make several improvements on your overall health, nothing can replicate this diet’s inscrutable power when it comes to both well-being and longevity. However, you can’t see the benefits if you don’t follow this diet. When you’re ready to take your health seriously, start changing your diet to meet the Mediterranean lifestyle and within a few weeks and months, you’ll start to notice the difference.