People who eat The Mediterranean Diet not only tend to live longer, healthier lives, but, also have a lower incidence of heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and also seem to have lower cholesterol levels.
Research has found that many people living near the Mediterranean Sea, especially in the countries of Greece, Italy, Southern France and Spain seem to live longer, healthier lives than many other people. Interesting to researchers is the fact that these results hold true even though the residents of these regions tend to eat about the same amount of fat, or, even more, as Americans and other Europeans...who don't live as long, or as well.
Additionally, people who consume what has come to be called The Mediterranean Diet not only tend to live longer, healthier lives, but, also have a lower incidence of heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and also seem to have lower cholesterol levels.
In 1945, Ancel Keys, an American doctor, brought what has become known as The Mediterranean Diet to the attention of the medical profession. However, it is only in the last few years that it has become popular with the public at large. In part this is the result of, and the driving force for, many studies into the workings, and the results, of The Mediterranean Diet.
One key fact in The Mediterranean Diet is that, while those who eat in this manner regularly, eat more fat than many others, the major source of this fat is olive oil. One additional factor, which shows up in a lot of places, is that the people from areas where The Mediterranean Diet is a normal way of eating, is that the people in these areas tend to be more physically active than others simply as a result of their daily lives.
Fortunately for us who do not live there or eat that way, it is easy, and pleasant, to incorporate the basics of The Mediterranean Diet, and, the active lifestyle of the region, into our daily routine. Research shows that doing so tends to produce the same health benefits of The Mediterranean Diet for those who don't have the good fortune to live in those areas.
Part of the success of The Mediterranean Diet is that it does not require "sacrifice" in order to experience the health benefits.
If you are "on" the diet, you get to eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, and appetite-satisfying legumes, cereals, and pasta. Olive oil is a key ingredient in many of the preparation of foods, and, a limited amount of dairy products and wine may also be consumed.
Typically, if you decide to eat, and live, this way, here's an overview of what you will get to eat:
In the Mediterranean region, olive oil is the go-to oil, as it has been for centuries. It is a monounsaturated fat which is better for you than the saturated fats so popular in the rest of the world. Along the Mediterranean, it is served with bread, instead of butter, is used as a dressing for salads, and is used to cook with.
Olive oil keeps arteries healthy by lowering "bad" cholesterol, while raising "good" cholesterol. It is good for the brain and contains vitamins and antioxidants which help prevent cancer, arterial clogging, and heart disease.
In fact, one study has found that even SMELLING olive oil can help you lose weight. Apparently, this is because olive oil, even the smell of olive oil, can interact with "satisfaction sensors" which tell the body that it doesn't need to eat more.
Simply changing over to olive oil in your cooking can be an easy way to begin changing over to The Mediterranean Diet.
While many other countries and peoples, who generally have more health issues, eat diets rich in red meat. On the other hand, those who eat The Mediterranean Diet regularly rely more on fish and shellfish. These contain lots of protein and dietary minerals, but, at the same time, are low in fat...the kind of fat that is NOT good for you.
Certain fish, which are common in the region, such as tuna, salmon, anchovies, and swordfish, are excellent sources of Omega 3 fatty acids, which help maintain heart health, while helping prevent heart disease. This wide selection of seafood provides the opportunity to eat many delicious, nutritious, and healthy meals.
Fresh Vegetables and Fruit
For those who like a varied, flavorable, and satisfying dining experience, The Mediterranean Diet is a great program. People living along the Mediterranean Sea, tend to shop several times a week, purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables as they are available and in season. Not only are fresh fruits and vegetables full of important vitamins and minerals as well as phytonutients and fiber. Such a diet helps protect against cancer and heart disease while helping us maintain a healthy digestive system.
These foods are rich in dietary fiber as well as many essential vitamins. Whole grains are essentially unprocessed grains. One definition of whole grains says that they "contain all the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed in their original proportions". Whole grains help reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce bad cholesterol, and, research tells us, may help prevent some forms of cancer, and diabetes.
When we think of legumes, we tend to think of beans. However, legumes also include alfalfa, clover, peas, lentils, lupins, mesquite, carob, soybeans, peanuts and tamarind. Legumes can provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and soluble fiber. They are good for digestive health, reduce bad cholesterol, and help the body manage blood sugar. Many delicious recipes already include legumes, and, they can often be added to stews and casserols which we already prepare and enjoy.
Good news! There are health benefits of red wine. Red wine, in moderation, of course, can be good for you. This is because it is rich in flavanoids, which are chock full or antioxidants, which can help prevent aging and keep you healthy.
By the way, while dark chocolate is NOT part of The Mediterranean Diet, it also contains many antioxidants, so, if you want to indulge yourself some evening, a couple of pieces of dark chocolate with a glass of red wine can be good for your health. At least, that's what you can tell your family and friends if they catch you.
If you wish to try The Mediterranean Diet, I recommend that you do not dive headfirst into it, but, dip your toe in the waters first. Once you get a little used to the "water", you will soon find yourself immersing yourself in it.
There are many delicious recipes for preparing meals the Mediterranean way, and many cookbooks which can show you exactly how to do it.