A Mediterranean diet, which consists of consuming plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, has been linked to a reduced risk of early death. Find out what the research says about this type of diet and how it might benefit your health today.
What Is a Mediterranean Diet?
A Mediterranean diet is a type of eating pattern that focuses on consuming plenty of plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. It also emphasizes the consumption of healthy fats such as olive oil and fish, as well as moderate amounts of dairy products and red meat. This diet is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants — nutrients that are known to have various health benefits.
What Health Benefits Can It Provide?
Eating a Mediterranean diet can provide several health benefits, such as a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and even early death. Research shows that it can help reduce inflammation in the body and improve cholesterol levels. It has also been linked to better mental health and reduced risk of depression. Additionally, this type of diet may help reduce the risk of some types of cancer and can even promote weight loss if you follow it correctly.
How to Follow a Mediterranean Diet
To reap the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, it’s important to understand what makes up this type of eating plan. The basis of the diet is made up of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and healthy oils such as olive oil. It also includes lean proteins like fish and poultry and contains moderate amounts of dairy products like cheese and yogurt. Typically a balanced Mediterranean diet limits red meat consumption and processed foods while incorporating healthy fats and plenty of plant-based ingredients.
Consider Adding Supplements to Your Regimen
Adding supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids, to your Mediterranean diet can further reduce the risk of early death. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, nuts, and seeds and have been linked to numerous health benefits, such as improved heart health and reduced inflammation. They can also enhance mental health by decreasing symptoms of depression. If you follow a Mediterranean diet but are unable to get enough omega-3s from your diet alone, consider adding an omega-3 supplement for added benefit.
Know Which Foods You Should Avoid
It’s important to remember that the Mediterranean diet cuts out foods such as red and processed meats, as well as processed starches like white bread, crackers, and chips. These foods can increase the risk of health issues like obesity and heart disease, so it’s best to swap these for plant-based proteins such as beans, nuts, and tofu. You should also avoid eating too much dairy or added sugar, since these can impair your overall health.
The Mediterranean diet can reduce cancer death
The Mediterranean diet has been linked to a decreased incidence of cancer in populations living in the Mediterranean Sea region compared to those in North Europe or the US. This is attributed to the healthier dietary habits of those following the Mediterranean diet. Recent studies have indicated that the Mediterranean diet can reduce cancer death and incidence by 6%, and a large cohort study reported a lower cancer risk in those following the diet. Further epidemiological studies have focused on the association between the Mediterranean diet and specific types of cancers, such as breast and colorectal cancers.