The Mediterranean diet is a healthy lifestyle followed by people who live in the Mediterranean area. A recent study confirmed that dieters who followed the Mediterranean diet have a reduced risk of many modern diseases and live longer than those who eat a Western diet.
What Can You Eat on the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating a wide variety of fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables along with whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.
Dairy products such as cheese and yogurt are consumed. Moderate amounts of fish and chicken are allowed with an occasional serving of meat and up to four eggs per week. Fresh fruit is eaten for dessert.
The Mediterranean diet encourages small portions of healthy natural foods and the reduction or elimination of highly processed foods.
Unlike many diets, the Mediterranean diet encourages the drinking of 6 to 8 ounces of wine with dinner each night.
The Mediterranean Diet is Higher in Salt and Fat
One distinguishing element in the Mediterranean diet is its use of olive oil. Olive oil is used liberally, and accounts for most of the fat in the diet.
Approximately 25 to 35% of the daily calories are obtained from fat, making it higher in fat than the recommended Western diet. It is also higher in salt because natives of the Mediterranean area rely on many brined and salt preserved foods.
Even with the higher fat and salt content, the Mediterranean diet still proves to be heart healthy in every study. The Lyon Diet Heart Study showed that among patients that had survived a first heart attack, those following a modified Mediterranean diet had a 70% reduced risk of death from any cause.
The Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
A number of studies over the past 20 years have reinforced the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet.
Participants lost weight and enjoyed protection from many modern diseases including lower blood pressure, decreased blood fats and blood sugar and insulin levels resulting in an 83% reduction in type 2 diabetes.
A 10 year study published in the Journal of American Medicine indicates that followers have a reduced risk of melanomas and other skin cancers, even though inhabitants of the area have a greater exposure to the sun than westerners.
The diet also appears to protect the brain by reducing the incidence of mini-strokes and is associated with a 40% reduction in Alzheimer’s disease.
For many people, the Mediterranean diet will require only a few changes in current eating habits. But for others used to eating lots of meat and highly processed foods, the change may be drastic.
You can decide for yourself whether this diet is for you, but every healthy change you make in your diet will be beneficial. Why not start with a few small changes and work toward the Mediterranean model over time?
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