Since I’m currently typing away looking at the Mediterranean Sea ( oh so so lucky, I know but this is our summer hols lol in March), that pic is actually what I’m looking at and the top pic was our lunch yesterday – amazing – I thought it a most appropriate time to write a little info on the Mediterranean Diet which we read about almost weekly in magazines etc.
Most of us have heard about the Mediterranean Diet but do you know exactly HOW it could improve your health? There are lots of benefits linked to this way of eating – some of which can be hugely impressive and can potentially protect against some nasty health problems. Here are some of the big reasons why you might want to add more Mediterranean into your life – I’m trying to lol!
1 – It Can Keep You Healthy – simple
The Mediterranean diet may be one of the best eating plans if you’re looking to reduce your risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, depression, Alzheimer’s Disease (a mahoosive one for me), Parkinson’s and even cancer. According to research, people who eat a Mediterranean diet are less likely to be affected by these types of conditions. There’s one big reason to be more Mediterranean with your eating!
2 – It Can Help With Weight Loss – YEH!
Because the bulk of the Mediterranean diet involves nutritious, fresh, whole foods, it can help with natural and sustainable weight loss. Fish, poultry and dairy can all keep you feeling fuller, as do the plant based elements. Get as many brightly coloured veggies and fruits into your body as possible, why not try ones you’ve never tried before, I dare you!!! You’re a lot less likely to snack if your diet contains plenty of these ingredients so you may well find that you find it easier to maintain a healthy weight and feel just a little exotic too!
3 – It’s Anti Inflammatory – this is bigger than you may know
A lot of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet are due to the fact that it is a very anti inflammatory eating plan. Inflammation is being noted more and more these days in research studies, as being one of the biggest factors contributing to dis’ease. It’s also very unprocessed and naturally low in saturated fat, salt and sugar, all of which can increase inflammation.
Olive oil is a staple and plays a big part of the anti-inflammatory game as it contains powerful antioxidants called phenols, (hugely anti-inflammatory) and can fight against the damaging effects of free radicals. As you may or may not know (don’t stress if you don’t, (I thought they were a pop band intitially), free radicals are linked to lots of health problems and this may be a large part of why you can reduce your risk factor for different conditions through the Med way of eating.
4 – It Can Improve Heart Health – so important
Want to keep your heart healthier for longer? YES PLEASE!
Studies have shown that eating a Mediterranean diet meant that people were 30% less likely to die from cardiovascular or heart disease, heart attack or stroke, even compared to a low-fat diet (even a healthier form of a low-fat diet – no extra sugar thanks). When a Mediterranean diet involving a fair amount of olive oil, the link was particularly strong.
There are a few theories as to why the Mediterranean diet is so strongly linked to a healthy heart, we’re going to get a wee bit sciencey now, so hang on to your bras. Olive oil in particular contains a few ingredients that are super important for this. It contains oleic acid, which is super healthy for your heart. It’s involved in lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol and improving “good” HDL cholesterol, according to studies.
The alpha linoleic acid (ALA) content in olive oil has also been linked to heart health. More specifically, studies suggest that it can reduce heart related deaths. The typical Mediterranean diet contains around 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil in the average day, which incidentally is the same amount that is linked to better heart health!
Eating the Med way in general can reduce cardiac death, even for people who have already had a heart attack. In the Lyon Diet Heart Study, people who had experienced a heart attack were told to follow either a diet low in saturated fat or the Mediterranean diet. After 4 years, the group on the Mediterranean diet had suffered 70% less heart disease- which on paper, makes it much more successful than even cholesterol lowering prescription medications!
There’s another factor too and this relates to blood pressure. As another marker for heart disease, it’s always good if you can keep your blood pressure in check. The Mediterranean diet is thought to help the arteries to be more dilated, which can have a positive knock on effect for cardiovascular health.
SO, What to Actually Eat????
The bulk of the Mediterranean diet is made up of fresh fruit, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, fish and healthy fats such as olive oil.
Stock up on:
- Fresh fruit and veggies, including leafy greens. Non starchy veggies are also a big part of the typical Mediterranean diet
- Legumes and beans, including lentils and chickpeas
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
- Fish, including sardines and anchovies
- Herbs and spices
- Lean protein, including poultry
- Some dairy, eggs and red meat in moderation and generally red meat isn’t eaten more than once in the average week
- Healthy fats, including olive oil
Let’s all be just a little more Mediterranean, it looks like it might just be a healthy option.
Back to my blue sky