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). The Mediterranean diet not only gives us the opportunity to eat tasty, high quality and healthy foods, but also offers a real opportunity to significantly reduce pathogenic inflammation and lose weight (or maintain normal body weight).

A 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 is actually a way of life. For thousands of years, the diet of people living along the Mediterranean coast has been based on high-fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables, as well as quality fats and proteins, and sometimes a glass of locally produced natural wine. This diet is considered preventive, as it can prevent the development of many diseases and even control body weight.

Originating from Italy thousands of years ago and spreading to Greece, Spain and other areas of the Mediterranean basin, this diet now allows people around the world to improve their health and extend life. Although this diet has been around for thousands of years, it has only grown in popularity around the world since the early 1990s, when a Harvard University doctor demonstrated it as a diet beneficial for heart health. a quick and easy way to lose weight and fight some of the common diseases of the western world.

Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest for the heart according to many nutrition experts, as it includes lots of anti-inflammatory foods, lots 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 in addition to all these benefits, the Mediterranean diet still allows people to "eat, drink and be merry".

Have you ever wondered why the people of the Mediterranean region seem so happy and full of life? It is very tempting to attribute their good health and positive mood to just one 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.

According toHarvard 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 can be avoided by eating healthy foods that are part of 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 seeds are used to make tahini);
  • legumes (for example, beans, beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, etc. );
  • herbs and spices (such as oregano, rosemary, and parsley);
  • whole wheat;
  • wild fish and seafood (eaten at least twice a week);
  • probiotic-rich poultry, eggs, cheese, goat's milk and kefir or yogurt (used in moderation);
  • red meat is consumed 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 ingredient of the Mediterranean diet.

Almost all researchers studying the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet attribute at least some of its legendary health benefits to the large amounts of olive oil that are added to nearly every meal. Olives themselves are an ancient food, as olive trees have grown in areas around the Mediterranean since about 3000 BC.

Olive oil is one of the omega-3 fatty acids and has many health benefits confirmed by numerous studies. Scientific evidence suggests that eating around 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, it is necessary to replace the intake of some saturated fats with an equal amount of olive oil so as not to increase the overall caloric intake.

Olive oil contains many compounds called phenols, which are powerful antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and fight free radicals. Olive oil is mainly composed 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 healthier for the heart 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 rich in complex carbohydrates.

How much olive oil do you need to consume each day?While recommendations vary depending on your diet and your specific calorie needs, one to four tablespoons of olive oil per day is beneficial for a person. Estimates indicate that people living in the Mediterranean region are likely to consume three to four 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 producers looking to cash in on 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 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 need to use it only in its raw form - only then does it store and bring to 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 those who follow a Mediterranean diet, fruit replaces sugar

The diet consists mainly of natural foods and ingredients such as olive oil, legumes, fruit, 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 something sweet is desired, people usually eat sweet fruit or small amounts of homemade desserts that contain natural sweeteners such as honey.

In addition to plant foods, another important staple of the Mediterranean diet is wild fish (naturally occurring and not farmed) and moderate consumption of cow, goat or sheep cheese and yogurt, which provide healthy fats and cholesterol. Fish such as sardines and anchovies are a central part of the diet.

While most people in the Mediterranean region are not vegetarians, animal meats are almost minimized 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 who want 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) and maintain that weight for the rest of your life, the Mediterranean diet can help you with that. The effectiveness of this diet in reducing excess body weight has been tested by many people around the world. It not only helps you lose 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, and organic meats from naturally fed 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 more to plant foods, legumes and whole grains (especially soaked and sprouted grains), this also provides your body very well with everything you need and at the same time does not cause weight gain.

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

Research carried out inWarwick School of Medicinethey also 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 clear arteries. Another protective element is that the Mediterranean diet helps fight oxidation that causes disease in the body and improves endothelial function. Keep in mind that in some cases, low cholesterol is worse than high cholesterol. People living in the Mediterranean region generally don't try to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, as they get a lot of healthy fats from their food.

4. Helps fight cancer

The Mediterranean diet prevents cancer

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

Plant foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet. It helps fight cancer, protects DNA from damage, blocks cell mutation, reduces inflammation and delays tumor growth thanks to its many antioxidants and active ingredients. Many studies indicate 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 the reduction of 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 treats diabetes

The Mediterranean diet is used to treat diabetes

Evidence suggests that the Mediterranean diet includes many anti-inflammatory foods that can help fight diseases associated with chronic inflammation, such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. diabetes prevention is that it helps control excess insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar levels, makes us gain weight and maintain excess body weight despite dieting.

By regulating blood sugar levels with a balanced intake of whole foods containing 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 fruits, fresh vegetables and fat is a natural cure for diabetes.

According toAmerican Heart AssociationThe Mediterranean diet is higher in healthy fats than the standard Western diet, which is dominated by saturated and trans fats. The Mediterranean diet is balanced more or less as follows: 40% complex carbohydrates, 30-40% healthy fats and 20-30% quality protein foods. Since this balance is somehow ideal for maintaining a normal weight and not feeling hungry, it is 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, someone's mood is more likely to remain positive and the person will be more relaxed and their energy and physical activity levels will be higher.

The Mediterranean diet almost completely eliminates the use of sugar, since initially only sweet fruit, wine and sometimes sweets of local production were eaten. When it comes to beverages, many people drink lots of cool water and are much less likely to drink coffee and red wine.

While some Mediterranean diets in the Mediterranean are high in carbohydrates, such as 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 depressions that can affect energy levels and mood.

Most people in Mediterranean countries have 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 lots of fiber and healthy fats. Many people eat their largest meal in the middle of the day, rather than at night, which gives them the opportunity to use that food for energy while still active.

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

6. Improve brain function and mood

You can ensure a 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 get enough dopamine, an important chemical necessary for normal motor function, mood regulation, and thinking.

Healthy fats like olive oil and nuts, as well as plenty of anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables, are known to help fight age-related cognitive decline. They help counter 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 lower rates of Alzheimer's disease.

Probiotic foods like yogurt and kefir also help restore beneficial microflora in the gut and colon health in general, which we know to be associated with cognitive function, memory and mood disorders.

7. Can help extend life

Mediterranean diet for a long and fulfilling life

A diet rich in fresh plant-based foods and healthy fats seems like a winning combination for longevity. The 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 associated with lower levels of cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's, inflammatory diseases, and many other ailments. All of these diseases are now the leading causes of death in developed countries, particularly cardiovascular disease.

In a famous studioStudy of the heart of the Lyons diet, 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 a Mediterranean diet. About four years later, the follow-up results showed that people following the Mediterranean diet suffered 70% less heart disease, about three times the risk reduction achieved with most cholesterol-lowering drugs! People following the Mediterranean diet also had a 45 percent lower mortality rate than the standard low-fat diet, much to the surprise of doctors.

These results were the same even though there were no major changes in cholesterol levels, which tells us that heart disease isn't just linked to high cholesterol. resultsStudio Leonethey were so impressive and groundbreaking that the study had to be stopped early for ethical reasons so that all participants could follow a higher-fat Mediterranean diet and reap the rewards of a longer, more fulfilling life.

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 get together to eat healthy homemade foods, all of which are great ways to relieve stress and thus 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 compromise the quality of life by altering the balance between health and weight. Dieters have the luxury of leisurely dining at a slow pace, eating delicious local food almost every day, and staying physically active are other important factors that help keep them in a good mood.

Furthermore, the history of the Mediterranean diet includes a predilection for natural red wine, considered beneficial when consumed in moderation. For example, red wine can help fight obesity. The Mediterranean diet is a healthy and smart lifestyle choice that leads to a longer life without chronic diseases and complications associated with stress, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, inflammation and weight gain.