You are what you eat is not just a saying; there is actual evidence to prove that eating a Mediterranean-style diet can have significant benefits for your health. Stemming from Greece and Italy, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to increase health, stave off certain diseases and improve longevity for those who follow it. Not a “diet” per say, it is a way of eating that isn’t a fad or a quick weight loss scheme. To improve your health for the new year, adopting a Mediterranean-way of eating could be the real catalyst for change in your overall well-being.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet involves eating lots of plant foods and consuming large amounts of nuts, beans, and seeds. Cheese and yogurt are the main forms of dairy, and fish and poultry are eaten in moderate amounts. Olive oil is the primary source of fat, which makes up 25 to 35% of daily calorie intake. Saturated fats make up not more than 8% of all fats consumed. Another key to this diet is red wine. Containing antioxidants, it helps to protect the heart and cardiovascular system.
Benefits of eating a Mediterranean-style diet
Many health benefits are associated with a European-Style diet. There is speculation that eating a diet that is plant-based can decrease, and in some cases eliminate, genetic risk for diseases such as cancer, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It also significantly reduces your risk of stroke that is linked to type II diabetes. Not just speculation, there are studies to prove that a plant-based diet can decrease any genetic predisposition you may have for chronic disease and stroke.
Also rich in antioxidants, the Mediterranean Diet decreases aging due to free radical damage. Free radicals are those things that degrade cells and lead to aging and the breakdown of genetic material. An abundance of antioxidants that are found in both plant-based foods and red wine can increase your overall well-being and longevity. Decreasing the effects of age, it can help you live longer and have a better quality of life. In addition, the high fiber content contributes to cutting back on diseases such as cancer and helps promote better weight maintenance.
One of the biggest advantages of the Mediterranean diet is the protective effect it has on the heart and cardiovascular system. It isn’t just that it is lower in fat, but the type of fat, namely olive oil, which helps to fight against diseases of the heart.
Finally, the Mediterranean diet helps to keep your brain active and can protect against dementia and diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Maintaining mental acuity, it helps to protect the brain from disease and the degradation of age.
This New Year try to increase your overall health by substituting olive oil for your fats, and drinking lots of red wine. Those small changes don’t sound like too big of a trade off for so many health benefits.