The Mediterranean diet: proven health benefits

The traditions of the Mediterranean diet came to us from the historical region, in the Mediterranean basin - the Mediterranean Sea (Southern Italy, Greece, Turkey and Spain). The Mediterranean diet not only gives us the opportunity to eat tasty, quality and healthy food, but also offers a real opportunity to significantly reduce pathogenic inflammation and lose weight (or maintain a 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's actually a way of life. For thousands of years, the diet of people living on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea has been based on high-fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables, as well as quality fats and proteins, and occasionally a glass of locally produced natural wine. This diet is considered preventive because it can prevent the development of many diseases and even control body weight.

This diet, which originated in Italy thousands of years ago and spread to Greece, Spain and other areas of the Mediterranean basin, now allows people around the world to improve their health and prolong their lives. Although 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 touted it as a heart-healthy diet and an easy and fast way to lose weight. It fights some of the common diseases of the western world.

The benefits of the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest diets for the heart, according to many nutritionists, because it contains lots 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 in addition to 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 just one factor, such as their diet. But the truth is, it's a combination of lifestyle and diet that ensures longevity and a low rate of disease.

according toHarvard School of Public Health"Our analysis shows that more than 80% of cardiovascular disease, 70% of strokes and 90% of type 2 diabetes can be prevented by eating the healthy foods that are part of the traditional Mediterranean diet, along with regular physical activity and not smoking. "can. . "

What foods are included in the Mediterranean diet?

Here are some foods you can eat on the 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, beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, etc. );
  • herbs and spices (eg, oregano, rosemary, and parsley);
  • whole grain;
  • 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 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 important component of the Mediterranean diet.

Almost every researcher who has studied 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 almost every meal. Olives themselves are an ancient food, as olive trees 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 suggests that eating about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil per day may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease due to the monounsaturated fats it contains.

To maximize this beneficial effect, you should replace some of your saturated fat intake with an equal amount of olive oil so as not to 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 oils.

Olive oil is more heart-healthy than most complex carbohydrates found in whole grains. According to some studies, a diet rich in monounsaturated fats lowers LDL cholesterol, raises HDL cholesterol and lowers triglycerides better than a diet rich in complex carbohydrates.

How much olive oil should be consumed daily?Although recommendations vary depending on your diet and specific calorie needs, one to four tablespoons of olive oil per day is good for humans. Estimates suggest that people living in the Mediterranean region will consume three to four tablespoons of olive oil per day, which is the amount recommended by some nutritionists for heart patients.

Remember that not all olive oil is created equal. Unfortunately, most manufacturers trying to cash in on the benefits of olive oil have flooded the market with all kinds of fake products that are imitations and far inferior to quality products. The problem is that these oils are always made from olives that are not harvested or processed properly, which can kill many of their beneficial nutrients and make some fatty acids rancid or toxic.

When buying olive oil, pay attention to the inscription "Extra Virgin Oil" on the label and the method of cold pressing. You should consume it only in its raw form - only then it retains and brings all the natural vitamins, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and other nutrients into your body.

8 benefits of the Mediterranean diet

The benefits of the Mediterranean diet include:

1. Virtually no processed foods and no sugar

For Mediterranean dieters, 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 excludes all GMO foods or artificial ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and flavor enhancers. When craving something sweet, people usually eat small amounts of homemade desserts that contain sweet fruits or natural sweeteners like honey.

In addition to plant foods, another important mainstay of the Mediterranean diet is moderate consumption of wild fish (wild and unfarmed) and 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.

Although the majority of people in the Mediterranean region are not vegetarians, animal meat is 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 looking to lose weight and improve things like cholesterol levels, heart health, and increasing omega-3 fatty acids.

2. Helps you lose weight naturally

The Mediterranean diet is effective for weight loss

If you want to lose weight (without starving yourself) and keep it off for life, the Mediterranean diet can help. 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 manage it naturally.

The Mediterranean diet focuses on healthy fats, relatively low carbohydrates, and high amounts of high-quality protein. Fish, dairy products, and organic meats from naturally fed animals contain healthy fatty acids that your body needs. Eating these foods helps you feel full without making you overweight. it helps control your blood sugar levels and improves your mood and energy levels. But if you stick more to plant foods, legumes, and whole grains (especially soaked and sprouted grains), this will provide your body with everything it needs very well without causing 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, because this diet includes foods high in monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Many studies show that the surprising protective effect of the Mediterranean diet is due to the high amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) present in olive oil. Therefore, the Mediterranean diet reduces cardiac death by 30% and sudden cardiac death by 45%.

research conducted inWarwick Medical Schoolalso shows that people who consume more sunflower oil have higher blood pressure than those who consume more olive oil. This is due to the fact that olive oil is more suitable for lowering blood pressure.

Olive oil is also useful in the treatment of hypertension because it makes nitric oxide more bioavailable, which helps to open and clear the blood vessels. Another protective element is that the Mediterranean diet helps fight disease-causing oxidation in the body and improves endothelial function. Remember that in some cases, low cholesterol is worse than high cholesterol. People living in the Mediterranean region generally do not try to maintain healthy cholesterol levels because they get a lot of healthy fats from their diet.

4. Helps fight cancer

Mediterranean diet prevents cancer

According to the magazineEuropean Journal of Cancer Prevention, "The cancer-preventing biological mechanisms associated with the Mediterranean diet are activated by the balanced ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids and the high fiber, antioxidant, and polyphenol content found in fruits, 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, stops cell mutation, reduces inflammation and slows tumor growth thanks to many antioxidants and active ingredients. Many studies show that olive oil also acts as a natural cancer treatment. Olive oil consumption has been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer. This may be due to reduced inflammation and oxidative stress, as well as olive oil promoting balanced blood sugar 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 in the treatment of diabetes

Evidence shows that the Mediterranean diet includes many anti-inflammatory foods that help fight diseases associated with chronic inflammation, such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. One of the reasons the Mediterranean diet is so beneficial for diabetes prevention is that it helps control excess insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar levels, helping 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 protein, and some low-sugar carbohydrates, we help the body burn fat more efficiently and release more energy. A diet low in sugar, rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and fats is a natural treatment for diabetes.

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

The Mediterranean diet almost completely eliminates the use of sugar, because initially people ate only sweet fruits, wine and sometimes locally produced desserts. When it comes to beverages, many people drink a lot of sweet water and are less likely to drink coffee and red wine.

Although some Mediterranean diets around the Mediterranean are high in carbohydrates 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 prevents blood sugar spikes and dips that can wreak havoc on your energy levels and mood.

In Mediterranean countries, most people eat breakfast within an hour or two of waking up, which helps balance blood sugar levels from the start. They tend to eat three meals a day, consuming plenty of fiber and healthy fats. Many people eat their biggest meal in the middle of the day as opposed to at night, which allows them to use that food for energy while they are still active.

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

6. Improves brain function and mood

You can maintain 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 receive enough dopamine, an important chemical needed for normal motor function, mood regulation and thinking.

Healthy fats like olive oil and nuts, as well as lots of anti-inflammatory vegetables and fruits, are known to fight age-related cognitive decline. They help counteract the harmful effects of exposure to toxins, free radicals, an inflammatory diet, or food allergies that can cause brain dysfunction. This is one of the reasons why the Mediterranean diet has been linked to lower rates of Alzheimer's disease.

Probiotic foods such as yogurt and kefir also help restore beneficial microflora in the gut and colon health as a whole, which we know is linked to cognitive function, memory and mood disorders.

7. It can help extend your life

Mediterranean diet for a long and fulfilling life

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

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

Although there were no major changes in cholesterol levels, these results were similar, which tells us that heart disease is not just about high cholesterol. resultsLion Studywas 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 benefits of a longer, fuller life.

8. Helps 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 eat home-cooked, healthy meals together—all great ways to relieve stress and therefore prevent inflammation. In general, people in Mediterranean countries spend a lot of time outdoors in nature; eating with family and friends (not 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 disrupting the balance between your health and weight. Dieters have the luxury of dining at a slower pace, eating delicious local food almost every day, and staying physically active are other important factors that help keep you in a good mood.

In addition, the history of the Mediterranean diet includes a natural love of 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 free from chronic disease and the complications of stress, hormonal imbalance, fatigue, inflammation and weight gain.