Health Benefits of Mediterranean Diet
A traditional Mediterranean diet consists of foods that provide generous amounts of antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, fibre and anti-cancer substances. When coupled with physical activity has the health benefits of reducing the risk of chronic physical and mental health problems. It’s not just about eating certain foods and drinks. But other traditional Mediterranean lifestyle habits are also likely to be part of the effect. Such as eating slowly and with others, leading a more relaxed way of life and doing regular physical activity.
Studies have found that Mediterranean communities who eat and live this way have a lower risk of heart and circulatory disease. This type of diet encourages dietary and lifestyle changes. Which offer long term health benefits and are key to optimal health. Let’s take a look at all the health benefits that are consistently making this diet ranked on top.
Health benefits for Heart
When it comes to healthy eating we can learn a lot by looking around the world. Studies show that people who eat the traditional Mediterranean diet enjoy health benefits including lower rates of heart disease. How can the diet help to lower your risk of heart disease? The Health Benefits of the diet are not just linked to a single food instead they are the result of eating the diet as a whole. The Mediterranean diet is rich in unsaturated fats, olive oil is a well-known example but unsaturated fats are also found in nuts and oily fish.
- Switching from a diet that is higher in saturated fat to unsaturated fats like these can help lower your cholesterol levels. Over time reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- A diet rich in fiber is also associated with lower levels of heart disease.
- The soluble fiber found in pulses beans fruits and vegetables can help to lower your cholesterol levels
- Studies show that following a Mediterranean diet can also help people maintain a healthy weight. Which in return lower the risk of heart disease.
Health Benefits for Blood Pressure
The focus on fresh unprocessed foods could help you cut back on salt. Research shows that eating too much salt can cause high blood pressure. So cutting down can help keep your blood pressure at a healthy level. The higher the blood pressure greater is the risk of heart disease. This diet emphasizes the usage of herbs and spices in your meals. When you use fresh or dried herbs and spices in your food they reduce the need of adding salt to food. So focus on the consumption of a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables and seasonal produce. And along with regular physical activity, you can keep your blood pressure in normal ranges. And ultimately keep your heart healthy.
Is Mediterranean Diet good for brain?
People who follow this diet are generally healthy and have greater cognitive health. The reason behind its cognitive benefits is that it contains DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which is an omega-3 unsaturated fatty acid. That is mainly found in fish and has been known to provide brain-boosting benefits. This diet is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are naturally occurring compounds found mainly in fruits vegetables and whole grains. They slow down the ageing process and control how fast you age by fighting free radicals.
Inflammation in the brain has a major role in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Studies indicate that the Mediterranean diet may have a protective effect against inflammation and tissue loss. And dietary interventions play a role in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Those who adhere to this diet were not at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to researches.
Is Mediterranean Diet good for Diabetes?
Numerous evidence-based studies have found that following a Mediterranean diet helps manage blood sugar levels. Mediterranean diet helps in enhancing insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes. If you adopt this dietary pattern early in life it reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the first place. Now the question arises how does a diet high in carbs lowers your risk of diabetes? Here are a few factors that would explain that:
- This diet emphasizes consumption of whole grains and carbs from vegetables instead of refined grains and processed foods
- These foods have low glycemic index and do not spike up your glucose levels.
- This diet limits the intake of sweets, desserts and all sorts or sugary drinks
- It includes healthy fats and protein, these help keep your glucose levels in check
- This lifestyle promotes physical activity and exercise.
Is Mediterranean Diet good for Inflammation?
This diet is rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and certain other compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It emphasizes the use of anti-inflammatory foods such as olive oil, dark green leafy vegetables and fruits. National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends the use of omega 3 fatty acids for the prevention and management of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Evidence suggests that omega 3 fatty acids from foods such as nuts can help decrease the inflammation and pain related to arthritis. Certain other studies prove that this dietary pattern improves the symptoms of inflammatory diseases
Is Mediterranean Diet good for Cancer?
People living in areas of the Mediterranean Sea had a protective effect against cancer, compared to those living in Europe and the US. Because of their healthier dietary habits. Nowadays, we are moving away from our traditional lifestyles. Which is increasing the risk of chronic diseases including cancer. Recent evidence from the studies suggests a relationship between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and cancer. Mediterranean diet plays a role in preventing certain types of cancers. Especially those of digestive tract, breast, liver and prostate cancer. Following aspects of the diet can explain its protective effects against cancer:
- Diet is rich in antioxidant containing foods such as fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains instead of refined grains
- Low intake of processed foods
- Supplementation with olive oil
- Low intake of red meat