Mediterranean Diet: Proven Health Benefits

The traditions of the Mediterranean diet come to us from the historical region, in the Mediterranean-Mediterranean basin (Southern Italy, Greece, Turkey and Spain). Not only does the Mediterranean diet give us the opportunity to eat delicious, high-quality, and healthy food, but it also offers a real opportunity to dramatically reduce disease-causing inflammation and lose weight (ormaintain normal body weight).

Healthy Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet has long been one of the healthiest diets known to man. But it's not just a diet or a way of eating. . . it's really a way of life. For thousands of years, the diet of people living along the Mediterranean coast was based on foods rich in fiber such as fruits and vegetables, as well as quality fats and proteins, and sometimes alocally produced natural wine glasses. This diet is considered preventive, as it can prevent the development of many diseases and even control body weight.

Originating in Italy thousands of years ago and spreading to Greece, Spain and other areas of the Mediterranean basin, this diet now helps people around the world improve their health and prolong their lives. long lifespan. Although this diet has been around for thousands of years, it has only begun to gain popularity around the world since the early 1990s, when a Harvard University doctor demonstrated it to be a healthy diet. Drinking is good for heart health, an easy and fast way to lose weight and fight some common ailments of the western world.

Benefits of the Mediterranean diet

According to many nutritionists, the Mediterranean diet is one of the best for the heart, as it includes lots of anti-inflammatory foods, lots of vegetables and fruits, and healthy fats.

Many studies show that this diet may protect against the development of cardiovascular disease, metabolic complications, depression, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, dementia, Alzheimer's disease and cancer. Parkinson disease. And on top of all these benefits, the Mediterranean diet still allows people to "eat, drink and have fun. "

Have you ever wondered why people from the Mediterranean region seem so happy and full of life? It is tempting to attribute their good health and positive mood to just one factor, such as their diet. But the truth is that a combination of their lifestyle and diet contributes to long life and low disease rates.

Based onHarvard School of Public Health"Our analysis shows that in addition to regular physical activity and not smoking, more than 80% of coronary heart disease, 70% of strokes and 90% of type 2 diabetes could be avoided by eating the right foods. "healthy part of the traditional Mediterranean diet. "

What foods are included in the Mediterranean diet?

Here are some foods you can eat on the Mediterranean diet:

  • fresh fruits and vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale; and non-starchy vegetables like eggplant, cauliflower, artichokes, tomatoes, and dill);
  • olive oil;
  • nuts and seeds (for example, almonds and sesame seeds are used to make tahini);
  • legumes (for example, beans, peas, peas, lentils, chickpeas, etc. );
  • herbs and spices (such as oregano, rosemary, and parsley);
  • whole grains;
  • wild fish and seafood (consume at least twice a week);
  • poultry, eggs, cheese, goat's milk and probiotic-rich yogurt or kefir (use in moderation);
  • red meat is consumed on special occasions or about once a week;
  • lots of soft drinks and some coffee or tea;
  • Drink a small amount of natural red wine every day (no more than 1 glass).

Importance of olive oil

Olive oil is an essential ingredient in the Mediterranean diet.

Nearly every researcher studying the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet attributes at least some of its legendary health benefits to the large amounts of olive oil added to almost every meal. . The olive itself is an ancient food, as olive trees have been grown in the areas around the Mediterranean since about 3000 BC.

Olive oil is one of the omega-3 fatty acids and has numerous health benefits that have been confirmed by numerous studies. Scientific evidence suggests that eating about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil per day can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to its monounsaturated fat content.

To maximize this beneficial effect, you need to replace your saturated fat intake with an equal amount of olive oil so as not to increase your overall calorie intake.

Olive oil is high in compounds called phenols, which are powerful antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and fight free radicals. Olive oil is composed mainly of monounsaturated fatty acids, the most important of which is oleic acid. Oleic acid is known to be extremely beneficial for the cardiovascular system, which is not the case with refined vegetable oils, trans fats or hydrogenated fats.

Olive oil is even better for the heart than most complex carbohydrates found in whole grains. According to some studies, a diet rich in monounsaturated fats lowers LDL cholesterol, raises HDL cholesterol, and lowers triglycerides better than a diet high in complex carbohydrates.

How much olive oil do you need to consume daily?While recommendations vary depending on your specific diet and calorie needs, one to four tablespoons of olive oil per day is beneficial for one person. Estimates indicate that people living in the Mediterranean region are likely to consume 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil per day, which is the amount some nutritionists recommend for their heart patients.

Just remember that not all olive oil is created equal. Unfortunately, most of the producers trying to cash in on the benefits of olive oil have flocked to the market with all sorts of fakes, imitations and far inferior quality products. The problem is that these oils are made from olives that are not always harvested or processed properly, which can kill many of their beneficial nutrients and render some fatty acids rancid or toxic. harmful.

When buying olive oil, make sure that the label says "Pure Olive Oil" and that the oil has been cold pressed. You only need to use it in its raw form - only then it retains and gives your body all its natural vitamins, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and other nutrients.

8 benefits of the Mediterranean diet

The benefits of the Mediterranean diet are as follows:

1. Virtually no processed foods and sugar

For Mediterranean dieters, fruit replaces sugar

The diet consists primarily of foods and natural ingredients such as olive oil, legumes, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and small amounts of animal products (only "organic"and locally produced). Unlike the typical "Western diet", the Mediterranean diet is low in sugar and completely eliminates all GMO foods or artificial ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, etc. and flavor enhancers. When craving something sweet, people often eat sweet fruit or small amounts of homemade desserts that contain natural sweeteners like honey.

In addition to plant foods, another important food of the Mediterranean diet is wild fish (natural and not farmed) and moderate consumption of cow, goat or sheep cheese and yogurt, which provides nutrients. healthy fats and cholesterol. Fish like sardines and anchovies are a central part of the diet.

While most people in the Mediterranean region are non-vegetarians, animal meat is mostly kept to a minimum in their diet, which is not the case with fish, a food staple. lighter and healthier. The Mediterranean diet can be beneficial for those looking to lose weight and improve things like cholesterol levels, heart health, and increased omega-3 fatty acids.

2. Helps you lose weight naturally

Mediterranean diet for weight loss

If you want to lose weight (without starving) and maintain it for the rest of your life, the Mediterranean diet can help. The effectiveness of this diet in reducing excess body weight has been tested by many people around the world. It not only helps with weight loss but also allows you to control it naturally.

The Mediterranean diet focuses on healthy fats, relatively low carbohydrates, and high amounts of quality protein. Fish, dairy products and organic meat from animals that are naturally fed contain the healthy fatty acids your body needs. Eating these foods helps you feel full without making you overweight. allows you to control your blood sugar and also improves your mood and energy levels. But if you eat plant foods, legumes and whole grains (especially soaked and sprouted grains) to a greater extent, this also provides your body with everything you need andand does not cause weight gain.

3. Improves Heart Health

Mediterranean diet improves heart health

Studies show that greater adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet is associated with a significant reduction in mortality from various diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases, as the diet includesInclude foods rich in monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Many studies show that the prominent protective effect of the Mediterranean diet is due to the high amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in olive oil. Thus, the Mediterranean diet reduces cardiac deaths by 30% and sudden cardiac deaths by 45%.

Research carried out inWarwick Medical SchoolIt was also found that people who consumed a lot of sunflower oil had higher blood pressure than those who consumed a lot of olive oil. This is due to the fact that olive oil is more beneficial in reducing blood pressure.

Olive oil is also useful in the treatment of hypertension, as it makes nitric oxide more bioavailable, helping to open and unclog the arteries. Another protective factor is that the Mediterranean diet helps fight disease-causing oxidation in the body and improves endothelial function. Remember that in some cases, low cholesterol is worse than high cholesterol. People who live in the Mediterranean region don't usually try to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, as they get a lot of healthy fats from their food.

4. Helps fight cancer

Mediterranean diet prevents cancer

According to the magazineEuropean Journal of Cancer Prevention"The cancer prevention biological mechanisms associated with the Mediterranean diet are activated by a balanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids and high levels of fiber, antioxidants, and polyphenols. "found in fruits, vegetables, olive oil and wine. "

Plant foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are the foundation of the Mediterranean diet. It helps fight cancer, protects DNA from damage, stops cell mutations, reduces inflammation, and slows tumor growth thanks to its high concentration of antioxidants and active ingredients. Many studies indicate that olive oil also acts as a natural cancer cure. Consuming olive oil has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer. This may be due to reduced inflammation and oxidative stress, as well as the fact that olive oil promotes balanced blood sugar levels and normal body weight. You may want to know that the antioxidants in olive oil kill cancer cells within an hour.

5. Prevent or treat diabetes

Mediterranean diet used to treat diabetes

Evidence suggests that a Mediterranean diet that includes a variety of anti-inflammatory foods can help fight diseases associated with chronic inflammation, such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. The reason why the Mediterranean diet can be beneficial for diabetes prevention is that it helps control excess insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar, which makes us gain weight and maintain weight. excess body even after dieting.

By regulating blood sugar by eating a balance of foods that contain healthy fatty acids, quality protein and some low-sugar carbohydrates, we help our bodies burn fat more efficiently and burn fat. release more energy. A diet low in sugar, rich in fresh fruits, vegetables and fats is a natural cure for diabetes.

Based onAmerican Heart AssociationThe Mediterranean diet contains more healthy fats than standard Western diets, which are mostly saturated and trans fats. The Mediterranean diet is roughly balanced as follows: 40% complex carbohydrates, 30-40% healthy fats, and 20-30% quality protein foods. Since this balance is somewhat ideal in maintaining a normal weight and not feeling hungry, this is a good way for the body to maintain hormonal homeostasis, which is why insulin levels are normal. in some people. This also means that, as a side effect, someone's mood is more likely to stay positive and the person will be more relaxed and their energy and physical activity levels will be higher.

The Mediterranean diet almost eliminated the use of sugar, as people initially ate only sweet fruit, wine, and sometimes locally produced desserts. Regarding drinks, many people drink more soft drinks, less coffee and red wine.

While some Mediterranean diets around the Mediterranean are high in carbohydrates, such as in the form of pasta or bread, physical activity and very low sugar levels mean insulin resistance is relatively rare inthese countries. The Mediterranean diet helps prevent spikes and drops in blood sugar that can affect your energy levels and mood.

Most people in Mediterranean countries eat breakfast within an hour or two of waking up, which helps balance blood sugar levels right from the start. They tend to eat three meals a day, consuming more fiber and healthy fats. Many people have their biggest meal in the middle of the day, rather than at night, which gives them a chance to use that food for energy while staying active.

This is in stark contrast to the standard Western diet, in which people regularly skip breakfast, snack during the day with high-calorie, high-carbohydrate, high-sugar foods and eat a lot at night whilestill maintain a sedentary lifestyle.

6. Improve brain function and mood

You can ensure your good mood by following the Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean diet can be used as a natural treatment for Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Cognitive decline can occur when the brain doesn't get enough dopamine, an important chemical needed for normal motor function, mood regulation and thinking.

Healthy fats like olive oil and nuts, as well as many anti-inflammatory vegetables and fruits, are known to help fight age-related cognitive decline. They help counteract the harmful effects of exposure to toxins, free radicals, an inflammatory diet or food allergies that can contribute to brain dysfunction. This is one of the reasons why the Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower incidence of Alzheimer's disease.

Probiotic foods like yogurt and kefir also help restore beneficial microflora in the gut and overall colon health, which we know is linked to cognitive function, memory and mood disorders.

7. May help prolong life

Mediterranean diet for a long and fulfilled life

A diet rich in fresh, plant-based foods and healthy fats seems to be the winning combination for longevity. Unsaturated fats found in olive oil and some nuts are the main sources of fat in the Mediterranean diet. Time and time again, studies show that monounsaturated fats are associated with lower levels of cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, inflammatory diseases. and many other disorders. All of these diseases are currently the leading causes of death in developed countries – especially cardiovascular diseases.

In a famous studyDietary Studies in Lyon, people who had a heart attack between 1988 and 1992 were advised to follow a standard post-heart attack diet low in saturated fat or to follow the Mediterranean diet. About four years later, follow-up results showed that people who followed the Mediterranean diet had 70% less heart disease - a risk reduction of about three times with most cholesterol-lowering drugs! Those who followed the Mediterranean diet also had a 45% lower mortality rate than the standard low-fat diet, to the surprise of the doctors.

These results were the same although there was no major change in cholesterol levels, which tells us that heart disease is not only linked to high cholesterol. resultLion Studiesso impressive and groundbreaking that the study had to be ended early for ethical reasons so that all participants could follow a higher-fat Mediterranean diet and reap the benefits of long lifeand more fulfilled.

8. Helps you relieve stress and relax

The Mediterranean diet will help relieve stress and enjoy life

This diet encourages people to spend time in nature, sleep well, and eat healthy home-cooked food together — all great ways to reduce stress and thus help preventinflammation. In general, people in Mediterranean countries spend a lot of time outdoors in nature; eat with family and friends (instead of alone or on the go); and make time for laughter, dancing, gardening and hobbies.

We all know that chronic stress can kill your quality of life by throwing off the balance between your health and your weight. Dieters have the right to enjoy a leisurely dinner at a slow pace, eat delicious local food almost every day and stay physically active are other important factors in keeping you in a good mood. draw.

Additionally, the history of the Mediterranean diet includes a preference for natural red wine, which is considered beneficial when consumed in moderation. For example, red wine can help fight obesity. The Mediterranean diet is a smart healthy lifestyle choice that leads to a longer life free of chronic diseases and complications related to stress, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, inflammation. and gain weight.