The Benefits of Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is not what most people would consider a typical Mediterranean meal. The popular notion of Mediterranean cuisine includes stuffed pita bread, pizza, heaping helpings of meat and pasta and other food that is unhealthy in large quantities. In reality, the typical Mediterranean diet is much more conservative and can actually lead to excellent cardiovascular health.
What the Diet Consists of
Before we can talk about how the diet benefits you, we first have to detail what the diet is made of. If you aren’t eating the right foods, you certainly aren’t going to enjoy the benefits of said diet.
A typical Mediterranean meal would use pasta as a side dish, instead of as the main course. The meal is also filled with salads, a small portion of meat, nuts or fruits and perhaps a small piece of bread.
Wine is not drunk constantly throughout the day on this diet, but served sparingly- once or twice a day. Any more than that will actually cause heart problems.
The diet is also coupled with physical activity. The region of the Mediterranean is one with steep hills and many mountains. Those who consist on this diet get plenty of physical activity to burn off calories and keep their hearts in great condition.
Health Benefits of the Diet
Now there is more to the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet than just better heart health. But that is certainly the biggest benefit. By improving your cardiovascular health you enjoy a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, heart attacks, blood clots, obesity and other illnesses related to heart health.
Specific protection is provided against type 2 diabetes. The rich fiber of the diet decreases the rate of digestion and ensures that blood sugar is controlled and kept even.
The part of the diet that really guards against heart disease is the lack of specific foods that most Americans indulge in. These include hard liquor, processed foods, red meat and breads that have been refined.
The diet also helps to make a person more agile. A 70% decrease in frailty is associated with the diet, as it fights against muscle weakness and ensures a strong and fit body for years to come.
There is also speculation that the diet decreases the risk of certain mental illness, specifically dementia and Alzheimer’s. This is caused by improved cholesterol levels and better blood sugar levels than what are usually attainable through other diets. The diet also ensures the health of the blood vessels and keeps the blood flowing at a healthy rate.
The risk for Parkinson’s disease is practically halved with the Mediterranean diet. It is the large amount of antioxidants within the food that prevents oxidative stress, a leading cause of Parkinson’s disease.
And those who use this diet can enjoy longer, stronger lives. By cutting down on all these negative health factors listed above and reducing the risk primarily of heart disease and cancer, the average life span increases about 20%. That is a far sight better than many of the health benefits promised by other diets. The numbers don’t reach quite that high of a percentage when the diet is started later in life, but there are still plenty of benefits to getting on such a healthy diet at any point in your life.
The key to getting the most out of a Mediterranean diet is to ensure that it is coupled with physical exercise. If you aren’t exercising then you are going to miss out on a lot of these benefits. The physical part of the diet works in tandem with the eating part.
You will also need to watch your portion sizes. While meats, pasta and wine all play a significant part in the diet, none of them are overshadowing the rest of what’s on the plate. If you just want to enjoy those parts of the diet, then you are once again missing out on potential benefits. You have to include the olive oil, nuts and salad with the rest of what you are eating. If you can manage all that and ensure you stick with the diet, you are start going to see some changes to your health pretty fast.