Whilst I walk around blindingly pasty, I can’t help but notice every second person sporting their European summer tans and looking glowingly healthy. When I think of the Mediterranean’s I think health and when I think of health I think of having a great balance between your physical, mental and social wellbeing. What’s one thing that influences all three? Diet.
There have been countless studies that support the Mediterranean Diet as being one of the healthiest. Those that follow the Mediterranean Diet, report lower rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and certain types of cancers. So what is it about this diet that makes it so good?
7 characteristics & 7 health benefits of The Mediterranean Diet
- An abundance of plant foods that are minimally processed, seasonally fresh and grown locally e.g. fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes
- Olive oil as the primary source of fat
- Cheese and yogurt consumed daily in low to moderate amounts
- Fish and poultry consumed in low to moderate amounts
- Red meat consumed in small amounts and used mainly as sauce and to season food as opposed to being the main ingredient
- Fresh fruit as a daily dessert
- Wine consumed in low to moderate amounts during mealtime
- Fat consumption can be high, ranging from 28-40% of the diet, but only a small portion of this is saturated fat, the rest comprising of monounsaturated & polyunsaturated fats. Studies have shown that replacing even just 5% of your saturated and trans fat intake with mono-and polyunsaturated fatty acids (olive oil, fish, nuts) can reduce your risk of CVD by 42%. That’s a lot!
- Fish contains omega 3 fatty-acids which are highly anti-inflammatory and is essential for brain health. The highest omega-3 containing fish include tuna, salmon, sardines & cod.
- The antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables stop free radicals from causing damage to our cells. This is what causes disease.
- Plant based foods are high in fibre which binds to cholesterol and toxins and removes them as waste
- The consumption of wholegrain complex carbohydrates keeps blood sugar levels stable and prevents type 2 diabetes
- Meal time is a celebration and enjoyed with family and friends, creating a healthy relationship with food
- Alcohol is enjoyed in moderation and with food as opposed to binging.