Interested in improving your nutrition and overall health? Great! Here are some popular choices. You’ve probably heard of most of them by now:
- South Beach
- Weight Watchers
- Jenny Craig
And the list goes on. Which one is best?
While many of these nutritional plans have been around for a mere decade or less, there’s a proven eating plan with healthful benefits that has been around for centuries.
It’s a style of eating popular in the southern Mediterranean area. You’ll find it in Greece, Portugal, southern Italy, southern France and Spain. No wonder it’s called the “Mediterranean Diet.”
Interest in the Mediterranean diet began over 50 years ago. That’s when it was observed that coronary heart disease caused fewer deaths in Mediterranean countries. Subsequent studies determined that the Mediterranean diet is linked with reduced risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
This finding is significant since cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in our country.
What’s so special about the Mediterranean Diet? Studies suggest that those who follow this diet enjoy these health benefits:
- Decreased risk for cardiovascular disease
- Lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease
- Higher life expectancy rate
- Decreased risk for certain types of cancer
As much as 40% of the daily caloric intake of this diet comes from eating fats. In particular olive oil. It’s a major source of antioxidants and a monounsaturated fat that doesn’t raise cholesterol levels.
This plant-based diet is considered healthier than the typical meat-based diet that so many of us grew up with. That’s because it relies heavily on the daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and cheese. Fish, a major source of omega-3 fatty acids, is consumed several times a week. Red meat is limited to only once or twice a month.
A related factor may be exercise levels. Many in the Mediterranean region do not rely on cars as their basic means to travel. Thus they are more apt to walk, getting sufficient exercise.
The Mediterranean diet is delicious and healthy. Many who switch say they’ll never eat any other way.