The Mediterranean diet is hardly a fad: its health benefits have been known for 70 years. Here are the reasons why the Mediterranean diet is so good for us.
Interest in the Mediterranean diet began in the 1950s when it became apparent that heart disease was not as common in the countries around the Mediterranean as it was in the United States. Since then, a large number of studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet helps prevent heart disease and stroke.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is based on the food traditionally eaten in the countries around the Mediterranean, such as Greece and Italy. A large part of this diet consists of whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruit, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices.
Moderate amounts of fish, shellfish, dairy products and poultry are included, while red meat and sweets are eaten only exceptionally.
Why is the Mediterranean diet good for the heart?
One of the reasons why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy is that fish has an obvious place in the diet. Fatty fish such as mackerel, herring, sardines, tuna and salmon are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which help fight inflammation in the body. They also reduce the risk of stroke and heart failure.
Another reason the diet is so healthy is that its main source of added fat is olive oil. Olive oil – like nuts and seeds – contributes monounsaturated fat, which lowers harmful cholesterol levels.
Keen to try it yourself? Start like this:
- Eat lots of vegetables, beans and whole grains
- Eat fish at least twice a week
- Use olive oil instead of butter in cooking
- Offer fruit for dessert
Source: Mayo Clinic