Mediterranean Diet: Proven Health Benefits

The traditions of the Mediterranean diet came to us from the historical region, in the Mediterranean basin - the Mediterranean (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 provides a real opportunity to significantly reduce pathogenic inflammation and lose weight (or maintain a 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 actually a way of life. For thousands of years, the diet of people living along the shores of the Mediterranean has been based on high-fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables, as well as quality fats and proteins, and sometimes a glass of local natural wine. 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 in the Mediterranean basin, this diet now enables people around the world to improve their health and extend their lives. While this diet has been around for thousands of years, it has grown in popularity around the world since the early 1990s, when a Harvard University doctor proved it as a heart-healthy diet, an easy and quick wayweight loss and fight some of the common diseases of the western world.

The benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest for the heart according to many nutrition experts, as it includes plenty of anti-inflammatory foods, plenty of vegetables and fruits, and healthy fats.

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

Have you ever wondered why people from the Mediterranean region seem so happy and full of life? It is very tempting to attribute their good health and positive mood to a single factor, such as their diet. But the truth is that this is due to the combination of their lifestyle and diet, which contribute to longevity and low disease rates.

AccordingHarvard School of Public Health"Our analysis shows that in addition to regular physical activity and smoking, more than 80% of coronary heart disease, 70% of strokes and 90% of type 2 diabetes can be prevented by eating healthy foods that are part ofof the traditional Mediterranean diet. . "

What foods are included in the Mediterranean diet?

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

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

The importance of olive oil

Olive oil is an essential component of the Mediterranean diet.

Almost 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 nearly every meal. Olives themselves are an ancient food, as olives have been growing in areas around the Mediterranean since around 3000 BC.

Olive oil is one of the omega-3 fatty acids and has many health benefits confirmed by numerous studies. Scientific evidence shows that consuming 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 intake of some saturated fat with an equal amount of olive oil so you don't increase your total calorie intake.

Olive oil contains many compounds called phenols, which are powerful antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and fight free radicals. Olive oil consists 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 more heart-healthy than most of the complex carbohydrates found in whole grains. According to some studies, a diet high in monounsaturated fat lowers LDL cholesterol, raises HDL cholesterol, and lowers triglycerides better than a diet high in complex carbohydrates.

How much olive oil should you consume daily?While recommendations vary based on your diet and specific caloric needs, one to four tablespoons of olive oil per day is beneficial for an individual. Estimates show that people living in the Mediterranean region are likely to consume three to four tablespoons of olive oil per day, which is the amount recommended by some nutritionists for their heart patients.

Just remember that not all olive oils are the same. Unfortunately, most producers trying to take advantage of the benefits of olive oil have rushed to the market with all kinds of counterfeit products that are imitations and far inferior to quality products. The problem is that these oils are made from olives that aren't always harvested or processed properly, which can kill many of their beneficial nutrients and make some of the fatty acids rancid or toxic.

When buying olive oil, make sure the label says "Extra Virgin Olive Oil" and that it is cold pressed. You should only use it in its raw form - only then it retains and brings to your body all the 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 no sugar

For those on a Mediterranean diet, fruit replaces sugar

The diet consists mainly of natural foods and ingredients such as olive oil, legumes, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and a small amount 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 such as high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and flavor enhancers. When craving something sweet, people usually eat sweet fruits or small amounts of homemade sweets that contain natural sweeteners such as honey.

In addition to plant foods, another important mainstay of the Mediterranean diet is wild fish (wild and non-farmed) and moderate consumption of cow's, goat's or sheep's cheese and yogurt, which provide healthy fats and cholesterol. Fish such as sardines and anchovies form a central part of the diet.

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

2. It helps you lose weight naturally

The Mediterranean diet is effective for weight loss

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

The Mediterranean diet focuses on healthy fats, relatively low carbohydrates, and higher amounts of high-quality protein. Fish, dairy products and organic meats from naturally raised animals contain the healthy fatty acids your body needs. Eating these foods helps you feel full without making you overweight. it allows you to control your blood sugar levels and also improves your mood and energy levels. But if you stick to more plant foods, legumes and whole grains (especially soaked and sprouted grains) to a greater extent, that also feeds your body very well with everything you need and at the same time does not cause weight gain.

3. Improves heart health

The 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 disease, as this diet includes foods high in monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Many studies suggest that the impressive protective effect of the Mediterranean diet is due to the high amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) present in olive oil. Because of this, the Mediterranean diet reduces cardiac death by 30% and sudden cardiac death by 45%.

Research carried out inWarwick Medical Schoolalso show that people who consume more sunflower oil have higher blood pressure than people who consume more olive oil. This is due to the fact that olive oil is more conducive to lowering blood pressure.

Olive oil is also useful in treating hypertension as it makes nitric oxide more bioavailable, which helps open and clean the arteries. Another protective element is that the Mediterranean diet helps fight disease-causing oxidation in the body and improves endothelial function. Keep in mind that in some cases low cholesterol is worse than high cholesterol. People who live in the Mediterranean region generally do not 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 biological cancer prevention mechanisms associated with the Mediterranean diet are activated by a balanced ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids and the high fiber, antioxidant and polyphenol content found in fruits, vegetables, olive oil andwine. "

Plant foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet. It helps fight cancer, protects DNA from damage, stops cell mutation, reduces inflammation and delays tumor growth thanks to its many antioxidants and active ingredients. Many studies show that olive oil also acts as a natural cure for cancer. Consuming olive oil has been found 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 blood sugar balance and normal body weight. You may be interested to know that the antioxidant in olive oil kills cancer cells within an hour.

5. Prevents or cures diabetes

The Mediterranean diet is used to treat diabetes

Evidence shows that the Mediterranean diet includes many anti-inflammatory foods that may help fight diseases associated with chronic inflammation, such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. One of the reasons the Mediterranean diet may be so beneficial forpreventing diabetes is that it helps control excess insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar levels, making us gain weight and maintain excess body weight despite dieting.

By regulating blood sugar levels with a balanced intake of whole foods that contain healthy fatty acids, quality proteins and some low-sugar carbohydrates, we help the body burn fat more efficiently and release more energy. A diet low in sugar and high in fresh fruits and vegetables and fats is a natural remedy for diabetes.

AccordingAmerican Heart AssociationThe Mediterranean diet is higher in healthy fats than the typical Western diet, which is dominated by saturated and trans fats. The Mediterranean diet is roughly balanced as follows: 40 percent complex carbohydrates, 30-40 percent healthy fats, and 20-30 percent high-quality protein foods. Since this balance is somewhat ideal in terms of maintaining a normal weight and not being hungry, it's a good way for the body to stay in hormonal homeostasis, which is why insulin levels normalize in some people. This also means that, as a side effect, one's mood is more likely to remain positive and the person will be more relaxed and their energy levels and physical activity will be higher.

The Mediterranean diet almost completely eliminates the use of sugar, since originally people ate only sweet fruits, wine and sometimes locally produced desserts. When it comes to drinks, many people drink a lot of sweet water and are much less likely to drink 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 intake mean that insulin resistance is relatively rare in these countries. The Mediterranean diet helps prevent blood sugar spikes and lows 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 early on. They tend to eat three meals a day, consuming plenty of fiber and healthy fats. Many people eat their largest meal in the middle of the day, as opposed to at night, which gives them the opportunity to use this food for energy while still being active.

This is in stark contrast to the typical Western diet, in which people often skip breakfast, snack during the day on foods high in calories, carbohydrates and sugar, and eat a lot at night, while maintaining a sedentary lifestyle.

6. Improves 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 impairment can occur when the brain does not receive enough dopamine, an important chemical needed for normal motor function, mood regulation and thinking.

Healthy fats, such as 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 damaging 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 lower rates 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 associated with cognition, memory, and mood disorders.

7. It can help prolong life

Mediterranean diet for a long and full life

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

In a famous studyLyon Nutrition Heart Study, people who had a heart attack between 1988 and 1992 were advised to either follow a standard post-heart attack diet low in saturated fat or follow a Mediterranean diet. About four years later, follow-up results showed that people on a Mediterranean diet experienced 70% less heart disease—about three times the risk reduction achieved with most cholesterol-lowering drugs! People on the Mediterranean diet also had a 45% lower death rate compared to the standard low-fat diet, surprising the doctors.

These results were the same even though there were no big changes in cholesterol levels, which tells us that heart disease isn't just about high cholesterol. ResultsStudy of lionswere so impressive and groundbreaking that the study had to be terminated early for ethical reasons so that all participants could follow a higher-fat Mediterranean diet and reap the benefits of longer, more fulfilling lives.

8. Helps you relieve stress and relax

The Mediterranean diet will help you relieve stress and enjoy life

This diet encourages people to spend time in nature, get a good night's sleep, and get together to eat home-cooked, healthy meals—all great ways to relieve stress and therefore help prevent inflammation. In general, people in Mediterranean countries spend a lot of time outdoors in nature. eat with family and friends (rather than 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 can afford to have a leisurely dinner at a slow pace, eat delicious local food almost every day, and stay physically active are other important factors that help keep you in a good mood.

In addition, the history of the Mediterranean diet includes a love of 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 without chronic diseases and complications related to stress, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, inflammation and weight gain.