Mediterranean Diet is more than a diet. It is a complete lifestyle, one which can be termed as health promoting, encouraging social relationships and happiness as a way of life. This diet brims with full of nutritional goodness and enhances your wellness quotient to a great extent. Interested to know more about this diet? Here we go…
What is a Mediterranean diet?
This diet pattern is adopted from the traditional food styles of people living in the Mediterranean basin. To be more specific from Greece, Southern Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Spain, and Cyprus. The main attraction in this diet is that it is rich in full flavored foods.
It is characterized by high intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains, olive oil and moderately high intake of fish. Moderate amount of red wine along with meals is also a unique part of this diet, but it can be optional. Red meat and saturated fats fare very low in this diet. Herbs and spices are used to flavor food instead of salt.
Good for your heart
Mediterranean diet optimizes your heart health and reduces the risk of heart disease to a great extent, nearly half. Researchers found that people who followed this diet pattern over a ten year period were 47% less likely to develop heart disease.
This diet suited all types of individuals, both male and female, all age groups, and for healthy people as well as those suffering from heart conditions.
Prolongs your life
Mediterranean diet increases your life span. That sounds amazing! This diet is linked with longer telomeres. They are found at the end of chromosomes, for example, the plastic tips at the end of your shoelace. These telomeres tend to become smaller as we age.
Lifestyle factors such as obesity, drinking of sugary drinks, smoking of cigarettes, oxidative stress and inflammation can increase the speed of shortening of these telomeres. This wonder diet boasts of the goodness of the fruits and vegetables, which are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects.
Scientists say that all these beneficial aspects of this diet prevents the shortening of telomeres and thus prevents aging, keeping you looking young and beautiful.
Reverses metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is quite common as the common cold. About 25% of adults around the world have this syndrome. It is not a disease in itself, but a group of risk factors such as unhealthy cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and abdominal fat. These factors can increase the possibility of diabetes, heart disease and death.
Spanish researchers randomly assigned one of the three diets to 5801 people. At the start of the study, 64% of the participants had metabolic syndrome. The three diets were Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts and a low-fat diet.
After a period of 4.8 years the researchers followed up the participants, they found that the people who ate Mediterranean diets had lower abdominal fat levels, and lower blood glucose levels and 28.2% of them were not suffering from metabolic syndrome. Now, that’s great news.
Protects your kidney health
Chronic kidney disease is a great concern among the masses. The kidneys perform various life-sustaining roles. Health experts say that poor diet is associated with kidney disease. Loss of kidney function is a potentially severe and fatal condition.
In a research study, scientists followed 900 participants for seven years, just sticking to this diet reduced the chances of developing kidney failure to 17%.
Dietary patterns that closely followed the Mediterranean diet were linked, with a 50 % lower risk of developing chronic kidney disease and 42% lower risk of developing rapid kidney failure. Red meats, processed foods, and sweets are significantly limited in this diet, which promotes kidney health.
This miracle diet is rich in nuts, olive oil, and fish which are vast storehouses of omega three fats, and they increase your brain power and lower cognitive decline.
Researchers randomly chose 300 people, to follow the Mediterranean diet and another 145 people to follow a low-fat diet. The 300 participants were further divided into two groups. One group enjoyed Mediterranean diet and extra virgin olive oil. The other group followed Mediterranean food along with 30 grams of walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds each day.
After a period of 4 years, the cognitive function of each group was measured. The results were stunning. It turned out that those people who followed a Mediterranean diet had great improvements in their cognitive function. Whereas, the cognitive function declined in the group that followed a low-fat diet.
Health experts say that omega fats in nuts and olive oil, play a major role, in promoting the health of cell membranes, and that includes even the brain cells. When these good nutrients are provided to the brain on a regular basis, it significantly promotes brain function. These nutrients could reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases.
How to follow the Mediterranean diet
Gaining knowledge is good, but one should make an effort to put this into practice. Mayrose Agel, an expert nutritionist, says that this lifestyle can be budget friendly and quite inexpensive. Go for seasonal foods, and those which are locally grown, low cost and nutrient dense.
If buying fresh is not possible go in for canned veggies and fruits, but make sure that you select foods that are low in sodium and has no added sugar.
You can add 5 to 10 servings of fruits and veggies each day. Half cup cooked or 1 cup raw equals one serving. It is better you know about it.
Olive oil should be the cornerstone of your diet, cut away all un -healthy fats. Include seeds, nuts and legumes daily. Bring in variety by adding fish and eggs. Organic eggs from pasture-fed hens are also beneficial.
Including dairy products such as kefir, yogurt, fresh curd cheeses like ricotta are good for digestion and promotes digestive health. Add whole grains, sprouted and fermented foods. Flavor your food with herbs and spices.
You will enjoy better health and feel energetic and ready to take on the world.