How can the Mediterranean diet benefit long-term health?
Multiple studies conducted in Europe and the United States showed that following the Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk for various chronic diseases. The overall risk of early death was also lower and the more closely that people followed the Mediterranean diet, the lower the occurrence of those diseases. Following the Mediterranean diet may help reduce the risk of: Metabolic Syndrome, Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease.
How the foods in the Mediterranean diet improve health
- Fruits and Vegetables
These are low-calorie, nutrient-dense, high fiber and abundant in beneficial bioactive compounds, including those with antioxidant properties that help protect the body against toxins and cancer.
- Whole-grains are minimally processed and therefore maintain higher nutritional content than refined grains, including fiber, B vitamins, minerals (like magnesium, iron, and selenium), and phytochemicals. Eating more dietary fiber may lower blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI, and triglycerides.
- Legumes are a good source of protein, minerals, fiber, complex carbohydrate, and healthy fatty acids. Making legumes part of your diet may reduce the risk for coronary heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
- Seafood and Olive Oil are both excellent sources of the heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and low in saturated fat. MUFAs may protect against coronary heart disease and stroke. Olive oil is also high in phenolic compounds, which may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-clotting properties.
- Red wine contains a compound called resveratrol that may help prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol and prevent blood clots.
Physical activity & leisure are also important
In addition to eating a variety of foods, physical activity and leisure also play a role in the Mediterranean lifestyle. It is important to include at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week, and to take time to relax and enjoy meals and activities with family and friends.