The benefits of following a Mediterranean diet keep on getting better as more and more studies are finding links between this popular meal plan and improvements in health.
Two recently published researches found out that Mediterranean diet can lower the risk of prostrate cancer in men. They also discovered that this clean-eating lifestyle can increase life expectancy and delay the onset of old age.
Mediterranean Way of Eating is the Secret to Youth
Even before these two studies, Mediterranean diet had been known for its several health benefits and was even recognized by U.S. News and World Report as ‘the best diet to follow in 2018’. But how is this specific diet different that the ones that we’ve commonly heard of?
Unlike other plans that revolve around strict rules and calculations, Mediterranean diet is a more relaxed eating pattern which is easy to follow and enjoy. However, like other diets, this one also has guidelines that must be adhered to in order to reap the full benefits. Here is everything that you need to know about the foods you can eat on this diet and why doctors consider it ‘the secret to eternal youth’.
Different people have different takes on the Mediterranean diet and there is no one book or meal plan that you can follow in order to get the age-defying benefits from it. However, all the versions of this diet have a similar underlying theme of fresh fruits, vegetables, olive oil, lean source of protein and whole grains.
Mediterranean diet is generally low in saturated fats, processed foods and refined sugar which is why it is considered so healthy and fulfilling. Some of its most unusual aspects include allowing moderate consumption of alcohol as well as promoting sit-down meals with friends and family instead of rushing through the food.
Inspired from Italian and Spanish Culture
The Mediterranean diet is inspired from the Spanish and Italian culture where elaborate meals consisting of several different elements are often enjoyed with good wine and even better company. Among the numerous benefits of this diet is improved cardiovascular health, decreased risk of breast cancer and kidney diseases.
Despite being a high fat and high calorie diet, it is recommended to people with high cholesterol or those who want to lose weight. Doctors explain that the reason why this diet is so healthy is because of the emphasis it has on fresh, whole foods which are known for being abundant in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
Since Mediterranean diet doesn’t restrict calories, you can easily incorporate its elements into your diet without feeling like you’re on a diet. The best way to start, according to nutritionists, is by increasing your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.
The daily recommendation of this diet is 9 servings of fruits and veggies, but most of us don’t succeed at reaching that amount. Wine and olive oil are also essential elements of this diet but if you’re only consuming these and not eating enough fruits and vegetables, you aren’t getting all the benefits.
What to Eat on a Mediterranean Diet?
Include colorful vegetables and leafy greens in your diet so that you get a variety of nutrient and phytochemicals. The second component of the diet, nuts and legumes, offer a healthy source of fats and carbohydrates which keep us satisfied for longer. They can be mixed in salads, turned into nut butters to enjoy with a slice of whole-grain toast, or simply eaten on their own as a snack.
Other healthy sources of fat include good-quality olive oil which contains monosaturated fat, which doesn’t accumulate in your body and is instead burned as fuel to provide energy. But like all good things, healthy fats can have an adverse effect on your health if consumed in large quantities. Limit your consumption of olive oil to only a few tablespoons and your nuts to half a cup per day.
Carbs are not considered the enemy in Mediterranean diet, although it’s wise to choose the whole-grain kind over the white, refined flour options. Whole grains provide plenty of essential nutrients and fiber to your body which keep you satiated for longer. Consumption of protein such as fish, turkey, chicken, eggs, cheese and yogurt is also promoted in Mediterranean diet.