If you’ve ever wondered why Mediterraneans are so good looking, the answer is obviously the diet! Mediterraneans thrive on a delicious balance of fish and vegetables, cheese, and spices drenched in pure olive oil keeping their hair thick, eyes bright, bones straight, heart healthy, and skin unwrinkled. If you have been toying with the idea of adopting a Mediterranean diet, let’s examine what it will entail.
Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
Why the Mediterranean diet? Research shows that the Mediterranean diet lowers heart disease and is associated with a lower level of bad cholesterol. In fact, an analysis of more than 1.5 million adults showed that the diet reduces risk of heart failure and increases overall mortality. Those who eat a Mediterranean diet are at a lower risk for cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and women who eat a diet including mixed nuts and olive oil may be less susceptible to breast cancer.
Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, and Nuts
If you travel to the Mediterranean, you will find no shortage of vegetables, fruit, rice, and pasta. Greek diets include very little red meat and an average of nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Grains are usually whole grains with few trans fats and the bread is eaten plain or dipped in olive oil, as opposed to trans fat, containing butter or margarine.
Although nuts are high in fat, most of it is not saturated, which means they are good fuel for your body, but excessive amounts can lead to weight gain. While nuts are a big part of the Mediterranean diet, experts recommend keeping your intake down to no more than a handful a day.
Olive oil constitutes the primary source of fat in the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil is a mono saturated fat, which is known to reduce bad cholesterol when used instead of saturated fats. Virgin and extra virgin olive oils are the least processed forms of oil and contain plant compounds with antioxidant properties.
Polyunsaturated fats and mono saturated fats, such as are found in canola oil and nuts, contain Omega -3 fatty acids which decreases blood clotting, lowers triglycerides, improves blood vessel health and regulates blood pressure. Fatty fish, including sardines, mackerels, albacore tuna, and salmon is also a source of omega-3 fatty acids.
While many doctors are reluctant to include any form of alcohol in a healthy diet, wine has been showed to reduce the risk of heart disease in some studies. The Mediterranean diet recommends limiting wine intake to no more than 5 ounces a day for women, and no more than ten ounces for men under 65. Men over 65 should keep it down to five. Higher amounts can lead to liver failure or heart disease.
Eat healthy and be gorgeous! Let us know how you plan to do your Mediterranean diet in the New Year!