A delicious and healthy way to eat, the Mediterranean diet has become increasingly popular amongst dieters and nutritionists alike. It is a diet inspired by the eating habits of Greece and Italy in the mid-1960s. A time before globalisation and processed foods, when the region’s life expectancy was amongst the highest in the world, and its rate of chronic disease amongst
the lowest. All this despite its relative limitations in healthcare. Something we can all appreciate in 2020 as we embrace the challenges of taking greater personal responsibility for our health and well-being.
More a style of eating than a calorie-restricted diet, the Mediterranean diet emphasises cutting back on saturated fat, red meat, and sugar. Instead, it promotes foods high in omega- 3s and unsaturated (healthy) fats such as seafood, olive oil, nuts, grains, legumes, and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. And yes, even a glass of wine. Olive oil is a core ingredient here; replacing butter. Monounsaturated fat, the type found in olive oil and certain nuts, is the main fat source in the Mediterranean diet. Studies have continuously linked this form of healthy fat to lower levels of heart disease and prolonged cognitive function in later life.
The consensus amongst experts is that the Mediterranean diet is easy to stick to, promotes overall health, and can even help prevent chronic disease. It ranks high on many lists of the best diabetes diets, the easiest diets to follow, and the best diets for healthy eating. A major study into the diet, published in The British Medical journal, found that strict adherence to the diet offers substantial protection against heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's. Many studies have linked the Mediterranean diet to higher life expectancy in general.
- Heart – A diet of seafood, nuts, and olive oil, along with the antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables, is believed to significantly reduce the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. All risk factors for heart disease. The emphasis on unsaturated fats here is key to maintaining a healthy heart.
- Brain – By improving cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and overall blood vessel health, the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are significantly reduced. Likewise, it is believed that the risk of Parkinson’s disease is almost halved by the high levels of antioxidants contained in the Mediterranean diet. In general, healthy fats and anti-inflammatory foods are known to combat age-related decline in cognitive function.
- Weight – With its many nutrient-dense foods, the Mediterranean diet is a natural and sustainable way to reduce fat intake and manage weight. A way to lose weight without being hungry. It is, therefore, a much more realistic way of maintaining weight-loss in the long-term.
Try our Pescatarian diet, which is our take on a Mediterranean style of eating.