The Mediterranean diet is perfect for those who love fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish. It’s heart-friendly and includes food staples of the region around the Mediterranean Sea, like Italy, Croatia, and Greece.
The diet is focused on healthy fats, like omega-3s, and other foods that support heart health. Here’s how to follow the Mediterranean diet.
The professor of nutrition at the University of Massachusetts Nancy L. Cohen explains that the Mediterranean diet is abundant in seafood, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and olive oil.
On the other hand, it’s low in red meat and moderate in cheese and yogurt as dairy products.
Also, it allows red wine in moderation, or up to five ounces a day for women and up to ten ounces a day for men.
Sweets are also ok if eaten occasionally and in moderation.
According to researchers, this diet is one of the healthiest around. If we follow it to become leaner, we should stick to it at least six months. Of course, it’s best if we could follow it forever.
The Mediterranean diet is good for the heart and longevity. It reduces the risk of heart disease, helps us manage diabetes, reduces the blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and helps us avoid many chronic conditions.
Many researchers agree that following this diet along with regular physical activity will increase our lifespan.
Here are five long-term controlled studies analyzing the effects of the Mediterranean diet on people’s health.
Most participants had metabolic syndrome, diabetes, or a higher risk of heart disease.
The researchers looked at the participants’ weight, markers of diabetes, and heart disease risk factors. Some of them looked at their risk of heart attack and death.
This 5-year-long study was conducted on 7447 people with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. The participants didn’t increase their physical activity or reduced their calorie intake.
The study showed that following a Mediterranean diet with extra-virgin olive oil reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 30%. On the other hand, following a Mediterranean diet with added nuts reduces the same risk by 28%.
Overall, it showed that the diet with either nuts or olive oil can lower the combined risk of stroke, heart attack, and cardiovascular disease. However, there was no reduction in mortality, and the results were significant only in men.
This 4-year-long study included 605 middle-aged people who’ve experienced a heart attack. A group of them followed a Mediterranean diet with added omega-3 rich margarine.
The results showed that the participants who followed this diet had reduced risk of heart attack and mortality from heart disease by 72%.
This 2.5-year-long study included 180 people with metabolic syndrome. They were divided into two groups, one of which had to follow a Mediterranean diet. After 2.5 years, the metabolic syndrome remained in 44 percent of them.
What’s more, they had improvements in their weight, endothelial function score, insulin resistance, and inflammatory markers – cardiovascular risk factors. On the other hand, 86% of those who followed a prudent low-fat diet still had the syndrome.
This study was conducted on 322 obese people, half of whom had to follow a Mediterranean diet. Those who had diabetes noticed improvements in their insulin and blood glucose levels, as opposed to those who followed a low-fat diet.
Also, the Mediterranean diet proved to be more effective in terms of weight loss.
The last study included 215 overweight people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes. They had to follow a low-carb Mediterranean diet for four years. In the end, 44 percent of them needed treatment with diabetes medication.
Also, their blood glucose control and heart disease risk factors have improved. In other words, the diet proved to be effective in preventing and delaying the need for medication in those who were recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
As we can see, following the Mediterranean diet will bring us many benefits and protect us against life-threatening health problems.