If a healthy lifestyle is one of your key priorities, the Mediterranean diet will appeal to you.
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When we think about Mediterranean countries, we immediately think of white sandy beaches, lush greenery dotted with bright flowers, and men and women of a legendary beauty. It's undeniable: this part of the world makes us dream.
What is it about these inhabitants' eating habits? The Mediterranean diet generates interest in North America, as it does elsewhere in the world. It is associated to prolonging longevity and improving health, which has been shown in large scale studies.
In fact, the term "Mediterranean diet" does not refer to a single official diet. It groups together various diets typically rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereal, legumes, grains and nuts. Fish, seafood and poultry are an essential source of protein, while red meat, processed foods, and sources of saturated fat are generally avoided altogether. Olive oil plays a preponderant role, just as does wine in moderate quantities.
What are the benefits of a Mediterranean diet?
Why is life expectancy higher in the Mediterranean region? The answer is not yet quite clear. It is natural to associate the exceptional longevity of those who live along this magnificent sea with their diet. It is questionable whether or not their diet, based on simplicity, moderation and food quality, singlehandedly explains the higher life expectancy of those who exemplify the art of living.
According to some researchers, longevity may be positively influenced by a combination of elements associated with the Mediterranean way of life: diet of course, but regular physical activity, lower stress, and a slower life pace as well. It has been suggested that taking the time to savour food in a friendly setting could also make a difference.
What are the exact benefits of adopting a Mediterranean diet?
According to current data, adopting this type of diet has a number of benefits on health:
- Decreases incidence of various diseases:
- cardiovascular diseases (e.g., myocardial infarction and cerebrovascular accident (CVA or stroke)
- Parkinson's disease
- Alzheimer's disease
- breast, prostate, colorectal and other cancers
- Decreases mortality rate:
- Lowers the following values:
- blood glucose in diabetics
- blood pressure in hypertensive individuals
- blood cholesterol levels
The Mediterranean diet also helps to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
How to adhere to the Mediterranean diet
Changing your eating habits can be a real challenge. It's better not to change everything at once, but rather to use a step-by-step approach.
Here is some advice to start:
- Flavour your dishes with garlic, onion, lemon juice, and herbs and spices. Avoid salt.
- Use plenty of olive oil in your recipes. Avoid butter and other fatty substances.
- Drink plenty of water. Avoid high-calorie and sugary drinks.
- Opt for low fat milk products.
- Ensure that fruits and vegetables fill up most of your plate.
- Discover foods that you are less familiar with, but that are very nutritious: fish, seafood, legumes, etc. It's time to widen your horizons.
- Take an interest in Mediterranean-flavoured recipes. You will find them on the Internet and in a number of recipe books.
- Consider consulting a nutritionist to obtain advice and expertise from a specialist.
When you adopt a Mediterranean diet, you become creative and begin to enjoy adding variety and colour to your plate, which is more interesting than restrictive diets based on deprivation. This approach is accompanied by an active but relaxed lifestyle. Live better, happier and healthier—it's hard to resist this idea, isn't it?
Speak to your pharmacist for additional information about how to adopt a healthy lifestyle and stay healthy through prevention.