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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.
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
The Mediterranean diet has long been praised for its potential to improve heart health and cognitive function. However, a recent study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that this way of eating may also have an impact on telomeres, the protective caps found at the ends of chromosomes. Telomere length is often used as a marker for aging, with shorter telomeres being linked to a shorter lifespan and an increased risk for chronic diseases.
The study, conducted by researchers at Harvard University, analyzed the food intake and telomere measurements of over 4,600 women. The results showed that those who followed a Mediterranean diet had longer telomeres compared to those who did not. Additionally, even small changes in diet were found to have an impact on telomere length.
So, what exactly is the Mediterranean diet? This way of eating is characterized by an abundance of olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish. It also minimizes the consumption of red and processed meats while allowing for moderate amounts of cheese and wine.
This study adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Not only does it support heart health and brain function, but it may also have an anti-aging effect by helping to protect telomeres. So, if you’re looking to improve your overall health and potentially even extend your lifespan, consider incorporating more Mediterranean-style foods into your 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 the maintenance of a 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 significantly reduce weight and maintain it 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 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
So, we know the diet is awesome. While this diet does not have specific dos and don’ts, some general guidelines should be followed for the greatest benefits.
Eat Fruit Daily
The Mediterranean people sure love their fruit and eat servings of it a few times a day. Not only will this cut down on your sugar cravings, but they’re a good source of fiber.
Consume a wide variety of fruit. Kiwi, pomegranate, figs, berries, apricots, apples, and bananas are all popular fruits that are part of the Mediterranean diet.
Olive oil is your staple source of fat
One keystone is consuming monounsaturated fats, the most popular of which is olive oil.
One of the main causes of obesity in the world is the use of hydrogenated vegetable oils. These are extremely detrimental to the body and are loaded with Omega-6 fatty acids when what the human body really needs is Omega-3 fatty acids.
Extra virgin olive oil is also referred to as liquid gold because it is that valuable for health. Full of anti-oxidant properties and monounsaturated fatty acids, it is highly beneficial to one’s health.
Use it to roast or lightly sauté your vegetables. Use it whenever you can to enhance the taste and flavor of your cooking.
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.
Natural Herbs and Spices for Seasoning
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.
Eat fish and eat it often
Cod, salmon, tuna, etc. Besides olive oil, fish oil is another important component of the Mediterranean diet. You should always choose fresh fish and freeze any excess you have to use later.
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.
This low consumption of saturated fat could probably account for why there is a much lower risk of heart disease associated with this diet.
Consume leafy green veggies often
This applies even if you’re not on the Mediterranean diet. 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.
Avoid Processed Foods
A hallmark of the Mediterranean lifestyle is avoiding processed foods in favor of fresh and preferably local foods.
Have a glass of wine every night after dinner
This is a key component of the Mediterranean diet. Most people are more used to guzzling beers or knocking down shots of tequila or Sambuca, which is unhealthy, to say the least.
Red wine, however, is rich in antioxidants and beneficial to the body, while drinks such as bourbon, vodka, etc., are treated as a poison by the body. Drink a glass of wine daily and in moderation. Your heart will thank you for it.
Whole grains and nuts
Other keystones include whole grains 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.
Unlike most diets, the Mediterranean diet is not tough or restrictive. With a few small changes, you should be able to adapt to it and actually find it delicious.
The jury is clear on the benefits of this diet plan. While you can make several improvements to your overall health, nothing can replicate this diet’s inscrutable power regarding 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.