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What is a Mediterranean diet?

  • A Mediterranean diet is an eating style that encourages high intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and nuts. The diet gives preference on using olive oil for cooking and in any form of oil consumption, like eating bread and seafood. Mediterranean diet is considered to be one of the healthiest diets in the world.

    Among other things, seafood such as fish is often the choice of protein in the Mediterranean diet, most especially seafood with an omega-3, fatty acids such as salmon and sardine. Red wine is also an essential component of a Mediterranean diet; it is often used in cooking or accompanying meals. Foods often are homegrown.

    A Mediterranean diet is more than a diet; it is a way of life of the people living in the Mediterranean. The people value and cherish getting together with family and friends to enjoy their delicious and healthy meals from fresh vegetables, legumes, fruits etc. They are always ready to share their meal at the same time enjoy the fresh outdoor air.

    People in countries like Greece, Spain, Morocco and other in the region respect and value their neighbours and communities. Therefore, intercultural discussions are always welcome. To them, diversity is a source of strength,  Another most essential aspect of their life is, they are physically active through engagement in fishing activities and farming for their livelihood.

    The Mediterranean diet discourages consumption of red meats. Protein such as egg, chicken and dairy product, like yoghurt and cheese, are eaten in moderation. Consumption of sweets is infrequent in the diet.

    The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet

    The Mediterranean diet helps reduce the risk of many diseases such as:

    Heart disease

    Many persons have suffered from heart disease in different parts of the world. In the United States, for instance, statistics have it that almost half of Americans have at least one of three risk factors – high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking for heart disease. In 2013, a study carried out and published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that eating the Mediterranean diet and also following the eating pattern would help in fighting heart disease.

    The results from the study notably demonstrated that those on the Mediterranean diet supplemented with oil or nuts were %30 less likely to experience heart attacks, stroke and other heart-related ailments than those on a low –fat diet.

    Stroke

    According to an international study carried out in more 39 countries with over 15,000 persons examined. The study reported that people with heart disease have a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes if on the Mediterranean diet.

    The study also exalted the benefits of taking fruits, vegetables, fish and unrefined foods. The study specifically found that for every 100 people with heart disease eating a high proportion of the Mediterranean diet; there were only three fewer heart attacks, strokes, and death compared to 100 people eating least amount of healthy foods within three years and a half year.

    Cancer

    According to research, the foods of the Mediterranean diets are plant foods such as fruit and vegetables that fight cancer in almost every way. They provide antioxidants, protect the DNA from damage, stops cells mutation, lower inflammation and delays tumour growth.

    The European Journal of Cancer Prevention reported that the mechanism for cancer associated with Mediterranean diet is related to the positive effect of a balanced ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids and high volume of fibre polyphenols and antioxidants found in vegetables, olive oil fruit, and wine. Check out this article that extensively examines the health benefits of olive oil.

    Obesity

    Leading doctors have stated that the Mediterranean diet could be a better way of fighting obesity. According to a new study in the University of Gothenburg, children who eat the Mediterranean foods are less likely to become obese than those who do not follow the diet.

    Metabolic syndrome

    A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has suggested that metabolic syndrome could be reversed when on a Mediterranean diet with extra-virgin olive or nuts. Other many studies have also reported the effectiveness of the Mediterranean diet on metabolic syndrome.

    Dementia

    Dementia is the name of an illness that affects the brain, leading to memory loss. Its symptoms include memory loss, confusion, and difficulty in concentrating. However, scientists have claimed that one could lower the risk or prevent this disease by eating the Mediterranean diet.

    According to the Alzheimer’s society, eating the Mediterranean diet could lower your risk of dementia, following its high levels of antioxidants. It also lowers cholesterol levels which might be linked to cognitive problems of the memory.

    Negative effects of the Mediterranean diet

    Even though the Mediterranean diet is considered to be one of the healthy eating habits, it also has its downside. Excessive of the diet can be detrimental to health and cause the following:

    1. Gaining more weight: Nutritional experts prove that excessive intake of olive oil and nut might lead to overweight, which has enormous cardiac consequences. Besides moderating your consumption of the diet, here are five tips to help you lose weight in a healthy way.

    2. Low iron and calcium levels: According to Nancy Cohen, professor of nutrition at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst – there are no long-term risks to eating the Mediterranean way, but you’d be low on milk if you take much dairy and rely on it for calcium. The Mediterranean diet is limited in milk, and this could result in a low level of iron and low calcium.

    To get the required calcium and iron you need, you’ll have to eat enough yoghurt and cheese or seek nondairy calcium, Cohen said.

    3. Excessive wine consumption is harmful: Drinking red wine persistently is somewhat the hallmark of the Mediterranean diet. It is socially believed to be one reason why the diet is quite healthy. However, it is not so healthy for women with a history of breast cancer in the family as high alcohol consumption raises the risk of breast cancer. Thus, women should stick to one glass and men two glasses to lower the risk involved.

    In the light of all said, it is essential to understand that the Mediterranean diet is ideal for better health, especially heart health, cancer, obesity, stroke, dementia, metabolic syndrome, etc. Also, it is a tasty way of eating that won’t leave you feeling deprived.

    The Mediterranean diet offers you fantastic health benefits, and it is undoubtedly a diet plan worth trying.

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