The Mediterranean diet is supposed to be the healthiest in the world, and that was reason enough for me to switch to it! The diet has been scientifically proven by numerous studies to promote good health in those who eat it, lowering the risk of developing chronic and potentially fatal diseases.
Furthermore, the diet has also been shown to extend a healthy lifespan in aging adults. This is because the calorie intake from a Mediterranean diet is lower than other diets, and helps to preserve memory in addition to lowering serious illness risk.
A Swiss study in particular compared participants over the age of 70 who adhere to a Mediterranean diet with those who ate more meat and animal products. It showed that those who ate a Mediterranean diet were found to have a 20% higher chance of living longer.
In practice, study participants that ate a Mediterranean diet were shown to live two to three years longer on average than those who did not.
What it Consists Of
Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables are staples of the Mediterranean diet, as are legumes, nuts and whole grains. Herbs and spices are primarily used in order to flavor food. While olive oil is one of the main sources of fat in this diet. Eggs, fish, poultry and red meat are also eaten in small amounts.
Other Mediterranean Diet Benefits
Following a Mediterranean diet is purported to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, high triglycerides and Parkinson's disease. This is because of the healthy unsaturated fat intake from consuming nuts and olive oil as part of the diet. Further contributing to lowering these risks are the high fiber and nutrient content contained in the fruits and vegetables that make up a significant part of it.
How to Make Your Diet More Mediterranean
Stock up on whole, unprocessed ingredients so you can control portion sizes, salt and calories. Stock your pantry and freezer with Mediterranean-inspired staples such as canned tomatoes, whole-wheat pasta and frozen vegetables.
This doesn’t mean you have to stop eating meat completely – swap some of it out for beans, nuts and other plants. This will help you lower your saturated fat intake while adding healthy nutrients, such as flavonols, to your intake. Start by aiming to make a plant-based dinner once or twice each week. Alternatively, try and make whole grains or vegetables the focus of a meal, only using meat as flavoring.
You should give heart-healthy olive oil precedence over butter or lard. When it comes to vegetables, you can drizzle them in olive oil to bring out their natural flavor. Olive oils that are yellow or Green in color and have a pronounced odor and taste are the ones to go for.
If you enjoy a glass of wine, try and incorporate it into your meal and avoid drinking the rest of the time. Drinking wine in moderation increases good cholesterol, regulates blood sugar and even helps with digestion. Red wine in particular will also give you a healthy dose of resveratrol, which is good for the heart.