Recently, many new studies have been published touting the many health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. It has been credited with heart and brain health, cancer prevention, diabetes prevention as well as a great diet for weight loss. In fact, US News recently rated it as the 4th best diet overall. But, what exactly is the Mediterranean Diet?
Introduction to the Mediterranean Diet
Although it has earlier precedents, the Mediterranean Diet did not receive significant recognition until the 1990s. Much of its appeal lies in the existence of empirical evidence supporting the claim that the Mediterranean Diet results in reduced risks for serious medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease. For example, the Seven Countries Study showed that a small number of Cretan men suffered from cardiovascular disease despite their moderate-to-high consumption of fat, which seemed paradoxical in light of the then mainstream nutritional science.
Composition of the Mediterranean Diet
There is no such thing as a single Mediterranean Diet, not least because there are at least 16 Mediterranean countries. The usual Mediterranean style of eating touted for its health benefits is based on that of the four countries of Greece, Italy, Morocco, and Spain. In main, it sees high consumption of cereals, fruits, and vegetables, which include but are not limited to a number of beans, nuts, and seeds. In contrast, there is low-to-moderate consumption of fish, chicken, and milk-based products, while red meat is even further reduced. Furthermore, eggs are eaten 0 to 4 times in a week, while wine consumption is either low or moderate.
Some of the Many Benefits
The Mediterranean Diet is beneficial because most of its fats are monounsaturated fats. In contrast to saturated fats, their monounsaturated counterparts do not increase the level of cholesterol in the blood. This is important because high cholesterol increases the rate at which the fat builds up in the arteries, reducing the flow of blood and contributing to the occurrence of cardiovascular disease.
Furthermore, the Mediterranean Diet is said to reduce the risk of other serious medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. However, it is important to note that our understanding of the diet’s health benefits is incomplete, meaning that we are still unsure about how much of the benefits can be attributed to diet rather than differences in the lifestyle of people living in different regions.
Eat Healthy, Live Happy
For people interested in living healthier lives, the Mediterranean Diet is one of the best ways you can eat. Most importantly, it is not really a “diet” at all, but more of a lifestyle. Eating rich, flavorful foods makes sticking to the plan much easier. So, whether you are looking to lose weight or just live a healthier life, the Mediterranean Diet can produce real and lasting changes for the better.