Ever heard of the Mediterranean diet being ranked as one of the best? It’s not because of the geographical location or the water surrounding the region, but rather it is because of the food that they eat! Let’s do a quick dive into what Mediterranean diets are and their benefits.
The Mediterranean diet is more so a lifestyle than a diet plan. It consists of mostly whole grains, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts, and white meats. It incorporates a lot of healthy unsaturated fats, and has less of a focus on red meat. Refined grains and sugar are naturally excluded in it as well.
Benefit 1: Protect against chronic diseases
Fruits and vegetables have a lot of antioxidants that can protect cells from stress and preserve telomere lengths. Telomeres are parts of the DNA and will shorten with age. With the protection from antioxidants to prevent further shortening of telomere lengths, there can be a lower chance of you getting a chronic disease. Studies have shown that participants who follow a Mediterranean diet have a longer telomere length which correlates with the lower risk of chronic diseases.
Benefit 2: Good for heart
The unsaturated oils in the Mediterranean diet are ones that are healthier for us and can be found in foods like fatty fish, olive oil and nuts. Unlike saturated fats, which can be harmful to our body in excessive consumption, unsaturated fats are quite beneficial! They can help prevent obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure which are all risk factors for heart diseases. A PREDIMED research study showed that people with risk factors for heart diseases (diabetes, obesity, etc.) eating a Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil or nuts can reduce the rate of death.
Benefit 3: Protect against type 2 diabetes
With the fiber and whole grain in the diet, these characteristics can help manage blood sugar levels. Especially with the limitation of sugar, it reduces the intake of foods that can spike blood sugar. With this diet, it can also be flexible as you have a huge range of different foods you can focus on eating – you are not just restricted to one meal!
There are definitely more than three benefits for following the Mediterranean diet. For instance, there is emerging evidence that supports the positive link between this diet and mood health. Stay tuned for an on demand course on mood and gut health to learn more about this diet!
The best thing? The Mediterranean diet is not very hard to incorporate into your current eating habits! Start slowly by switching out red meats to white and add more vegetables into your meals. I’m sure you can do it!
Reviewed by Annie Tsang, RD