With a focus on eating vegetables, fruits, olive oil, legumes, nuts, and whole grains, the Mediterranean diet is seemingly good for your whole body! Some of the Mediterranean diet health benefits practitioners enjoy include a reduction in risk of developing heart disease, cancer, depression, and it can even help prevent cognitive decline.
There is a large body of research that points to this diet offering startling benefits. Some other examples include an improved memory and a reduction in blood sugar. Hardly a new diet at this point, the Mediterranean diet has been considered for quite some time now to be amongst the healthiest diets one can follow. The list of Mediterranean diet health benefits is staggering, and with little restrictions, it is easily adopted.
Some of the key aspects of the Mediterranean diet include:
- Eating at least 5 servings of non-starchy vegetables a day
- Eating at least 5 servings of non-starchy vegetables a day, consuming healthy fats from sources such as fish, nuts, and olive oil
- Eating 2 servings of legumes a week
- Eating at least a handful of nuts daily
- Get adequate protein from sources such as fish and eggs, two or three times a week
To give you a better idea of what the research says, we’ve broken down 10 of the major Mediterranean diet health benefits you can enjoy:
Promotes Healthy Weight Loss
One of the main factors that has made this diet so successful in helping people lose weight when compared to other diets is that it is not a very restricting diet. This meal plan affords followers the opportunity to indulge in some of their favorite foods regularly while keeping them fuller. This makes it much easier to stick to a healthier diet.
To realize the full potential that this diet has and enjoy the maximum amount of weight loss possible, you should plan on sticking with it for at least six months. Really though, this should not be looked at as a “diet” but more as a lifestyle change that you plan on sticking with for life.
While following this diet, it is okay and even encouraged that you eat small amounts of bread and other carbs, these are calorie-dense foods that can add up quickly if you’re not stringent with portioning. This can result in your weight loss stalling or reversing.
Bolsters Cognitive Health
Aside from enjoying a reduction in the risk of developing degenerative cognitive conditions such as Parkinson’s and dementia, followers of this diet can actually realize an improvement in their cognitive abilities. Research has shown that followers of this diet have benefited from superior focus and attention and an enchantments to their memory capacities. The diet has also been found to offer measurable improvements to the brain’s language capabilities
For the older follower’s of this diet, the significance of these findings are easy to see, but the younger generations can also benefit from the Mediterranean diet health benefits, both physical and mental. Following this diet can help to maintain peak brain function throughout the lifetime of practitioners. Some of the potential benefits of this can include a healthier frame of mind, improved job performance, and a considerable bump to the quality of one’s life!
Puts You In A Better Mood
People suffering from mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD can benefit from the boost to cognition resulting from following this diet.
These conditions may occur as a result of your brain not getting enough of the chemical in the brain responsible for thought processing, the regulation of one’s mood, and body movements; dopamine. Through the consumption of foods encouraged by this diet, namely probiotic foods high in fiber and healthy fats, such as olive oil and nuts, you can enjoy improvements to your mood and overall brain health. Also a possible cause of some mood disorders, poor gut health can also be mitigated by this diet!
While scientist do not recommend this diet as a complete replacement to regular treatment programs for said conditions, following this diet can be used, with likely positive results, as a supplement to traditional medications and therapies. It’s not guaranteed, but with time you may find you do not need to medicate in order to suppress the symptoms of these disorders!
Helps to Maintain Heart Health
In countries where the population’s diet closely mirrors that of Mediterranean counties, the occurrence of heart disease is much lower than other parts of the world. The dietary choices, increased frequency of physical activity and an emphasis on valued social supports of those in Mediterranean countries are all factors that keep the heart and the rest of the body healthy.
Their diet often results in a reduction to the risk of death due to cardiovascular complications, due primarily to its positive impacts on LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.
The beneficial effects this diet has on the heart health of practitioners is not only due to their food choices but also as a result of what they choose to drink. Long associated with a reduction in the rate of heart disease, the regular but moderate consumption of red wine is encouraged. The key here is moderate, as in no more than ten ounces for men under the age of 65, and no more than five ounces for women and men over 65.
Protects Against Type 2 Diabetes
When researchers looked at the Mediterranean diet as compared with other healthy diets such as vegan, vegetarian, low-carb, high-fiber, high protein, or low-glycemic diets, they found that it provided more beneficial effects for those suffering with diabetes or high blood sugar.
An emphasis on healthy foods that have abundant monounsaturated fats such as fish, olive oil, and nuts and high fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables is what researchers are attributing the decreases in cholesterol and blood sugar in diabetics too.
By replacing trans and saturated fats with healthier unsaturated fats, individuals have been able to enjoy improvements to insulin sensitivity.
Reduces Your Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease
By way of improving blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and the overall heartiness of your blood vessels, this diet has been shown to significantly reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia as you age!
Research indicates that when seniors follow a diet closely resembling that of Mediterranean countries, the rate of cognitive decline is slowed or even halted. This enables older adults to limit the burdens of illness, both economic and social while also preserving their quality of life.
For a long time now, doctors have been trying to get patients to embrace healthier eating habits more in line with this diet as a possible means to combat cognitive conditions such as dementia.
Reduces Your Risk of Developing Parkinson’s Disease
As a result of the increase in healthy antioxidants you’ll be ingesting by following a diet similar to that of Mediterranean countries, you can drastically reduce your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, by nearly 50%!
Antioxidants, which are found in high concentrations in foods such as the vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and seafood encouraged by this diet offer results by way of keeping your cells from undergoing a process known as oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can cause a lot of damage over time and can contribute to the development of Parkinson’s and other degenerative diseases.
Although most scientists agree that more research is needed to look at the effects nutrition can have on neurodegeneration and neuroprotection, studies have shined positive light on the diet’s ability to provide significant benefits to people genetically predisposed to, or whom face factors from their environment that can contribute to the onset of such conditions.
Fights Off Inflammation
Research on the impact of this diet on inflammation biomarkers in those at increased susceptibility showed that a diet such as this can regulate and even reduce these markers. This results in better control of inflammation within the body, which can act as a preventative measure against many of the conditions and concerns that can be brought on as a result of chronic inflammation.
As was previously mentioned, the richness in antioxidants of many of the foods consumed while following this diet acts to reduce your bodies likeliness of experiencing oxidative stress, which is a leading cause of inflammation.
To increase these beneficial effects even further, try increasing your intake of foods containing betaine and choline. Foods rich in betaine include vegetables such as spinach and beets. You can find choline in abundance in egg yolks and soybeans.
Staves Off Cancer
Studies have been done that show followers of this diet enjoy an reduction in risk of developing cancer and cancer-related mortality. The research says that there is a likely protective role that this diet plays when it comes to the prevention of diseases such as cancer.
Aside from the general reduction in risk of cancer developing among devotees, studies have positively associated this type of diet and lifestyle with more specific types of cancer. One stand out example is that the diet has been found to be particularly effective at reducing or preventing the development of postmenopausal breast cancer.
Improvements in Pain Management
High fiber vegetables and fruits and magnesium-rich whole grains, all encouraged while following this diet, can provide real value and effects on pain management. Due to its effectiveness at reducing inflammation and providing stress relief, you’ll likely notice an huge difference in your body’s response to pain.
Magnesium is the real driver to this diet’s success at pain management and relief. If you’re looking for some of these Mediterranean diet health benefits, try to include more nuts, fish, legumes, whole grains, spinach, and chocolate in your diet.
Studies have shown that a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish can have a positive effect on fertility in even those who had trouble previously with trying to conceive! Admittedly, more research needs to be done on this subject, the diets overall other benefits are enough that doctors still recommend trying to follow the diet’s guidelines closely.
With an overabundance of information available pointing to the Mediterranean diet being a real winner when it comes to weight loss and overall health, it’s hard to say no to giving it a chance. With more and more people showing an interest in their health and well-being, this diet is a safe bet for those that want a plan that they can stick with and benefit from for the foreseeable future!
With the Mediterranean diet, health benefits are plentiful! By even adopting just a few of the dietary suggestions this diet offers, you’re likely to notice a marked improvement in your overall health and mood. The sooner you start on the right track to a healthier lifestyle, the better. Healthy living is cumulative, it’s not a race and every little bit counts, all eventually resulting in a better you!