The Mediterranean Diet
by Wendy on 19th December 2019
With today’s busy lifestyles, it can be difficult to plan and maintain a healthy diet. There’s an abundance of popular nutritional plans available, from the ketogenic (keto) plan and the famous South Beach Diet, to Atkins and Weight Watchers. Some of the more familiar plans have been around for the last half-century, with most having only being available for the last decade or so. And whilst these diets undoubtedly come with their own health benefits, there’s a simple, healthy eating plan that has been around for even longer —centuries, in fact.
You may have heard of the Mediterranean Diet. It’s so-called because it blends the principles of healthy eating with the traditional recipes from countries such as Greece, Spain, France, and Italy. Studies have shown that following the culinary habits of our Mediterranean neighbours can boost our brain function and even reduce the risk of heart disease.
Mediterranean eating habits vary from region to region, but most comprise a largely plant-based diet, with a balanced intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes, cereals, olive oil, and fish. Following a mainly plant-based diet can also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which can ultimately ward off serious conditions.
The Mediterranean Diet is even recognised by the World Health Organisation, being associated with:
- Lower risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- Higher life expectancy
- Lower risk of certain forms of cancer
Olive oil is a natural source of antioxidants and plays a big part in the Mediterranean Diet. As it is a monounsaturated fat, it doesn’t raise cholesterol levels like some of the unhealthier fats. Red meat consumption is limited to once or twice a month, but fish, which is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, is consumed several times a week. Studies show that Omega-3 has many health benefits, including:
- Healthy bones
- Maintaining a healthy brain —it is linked to reducing depression and anxiety
- Healthy eyes —reduces the likelihood of macular degeneration (which can cause blindness)
- Healthy pregnancies (and, as a result, healthier babies)
- Reduced symptoms of ADHD and asthma in children
- Fighting inflammation and auto-immune disorders
The Mediterranean diet is not only good for you, but it’s delicious, too. A drizzle of olive oil adds flavour and moisture to roast vegetables and salads. Why not experiment with fresh fish and legumes and see what you can come up with?