Every year, there’s a fresh batch of new and trendy diets. They are often tagged as the next best thing and wellness junkies jump at the chance to try them. And most of the time they find that the diet is too hard to follow or they don’t see long term results. But ff there’s one so-called diet that is widely acclaimed for its health benefits, it’s the Mediterranean diet. In fact, in January 2019 when U.S. News evaluated 41 of the most popular diets they identified the Mediterranean Diet as being the “#1 Best Overall Diet.”
Packed with fruits and veggies, fish, whole grains, and healthy fats, the Mediterranean diet could help manage your weight, benefit your brain, improve heart health, and maybe even help you live longer. Scroll down to learn about the different ways you can improve your health by eating a Mediterranean Diet.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet incorporates the traditional healthy living habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Greece, Italy and Spain. It emphasizes produce, fish, whole grains, and health fats from things like olive oil, nuts, fish and avocado -encouraging a high intake of fiber, moderate consumption of meats and alcohol, and tons of antioxidants. One unusual aspect of the Mediterranean diet is that portion sizes are not regulated, allowing each individual to decide how much they eat based on their own body type and size.
What benefits can be derived from Mediterranean diet?
It combats heart disease
Following the Mediterranean decreases practically every heart-disease risk factor, including high blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. That’s because the diet is high in heart-healthy omega-3s thanks to the seafood, nuts, and olive oil, as well as antioxidants from all those fruits and veggies).
It boosts brain health
One study with 1,864 participants found that those who followed the Mediterranean diet were less likely to get Alzheimer’s or experience other types of cognitive decline in old age. In fact, there’s a direct correlation between fish consumption and lowered risk of Alzheimer’s. So all those healthy fats are good for your brain, too.
While losing weight is not the primary goal of this diet, it’s an inseparable effect from eating more plant-based foods while curbing sugar and red meat. Additionally, the high-fiber content of many whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes found in the Mediterranean diet will help you feel fuller for longer, and reduce the chance of overeating.
The nutrients provided by the Mediterranean diet can help protect against frailty associated with old age, according to a study in the Journal of American Geriatrics. Research suggests that the diet may help prevent osteoporosis or reduce the rate of bone loss when combined with vitamin D3 supplements.
Research suggests that people who follow a Mediterranean diet have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. One reason the Mediterranean diet might be so beneficial for preventing diabetes is because it controls excess insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar levels, makes us gain weight and keeps the weight packed on despite us dieting.
People who follow the Mediterranean diet may be protected against depression, too. A 2013 study found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet most closely had a 98.6 percent lower risk of developing depression than people who followed it the least closely.