Tuesday, 31 October 2017
Monday, 30 October 2017
Most people know that the Mediterranean Diet is a healthy way to eat, but what are the specific benefits? From better skin and mood to lower risk of chronic disease, learn the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet.
Do you love red wine? If so, the Mediterranean Diet may work for you. This diet allows regular (but moderate) consumption of red wine. But that’s not the only reason you should follow this diet. Research shows that it can prevent diseases and enhance weight loss.
The Mediterranean diet encourages high intake of fruits, veggies, whole grains, olive oil, and legumes. It discourages eating a lot of red meat. Fish and poultry are the preferred lean protein sources. Here’s how the Mediterranean diet can improve your health.
HOW THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET IMPROVES HEALTH
1. Mediterranean diet may improve heart health.
Adhering to the Mediterranean diet can improve heart health since this diet is abundant in omega 3s and monounsaturated fats.
Olive oil is a staple food in the Mediterranean diet, and this study found that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a compound found in olive oil, can lower risk of cardiac death by 30 percent. Another study found that extra-virgin olive oil helps reduce high blood pressure.
2. Mediterranean diet may help you lose weight.
The Mediterranean diet has helped many people lose weight. This diet works because it encourages intake of high-fiber foods, which make it easier to control hunger.
The diet also focuses of nutrient-dense foods. These foods balance hormones, regulate blood sugar and boost energy levels.
3. Mediterranean diet may lower risk of Alzheimer’s.
According to this study, people who adhere to the Mediterranean diet have lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Olive oil, fruits, and veggies help prevent decline of brain function. They contain antioxidants which fight inflammation, and as a result lower risk of brain impairment.
4. Mediterranean diet may help you live longer.
The Mediterranean diet is mainly a combination of plant-based foods and healthy fats. A lot of evidence shows that these two food sources promote longevity. In fact, one studyfound that people who started following the Mediterranean diet after experiencing a heart attack had 45 percent lower risk of death compared to people who ate a low fat diet.
5. Mediterranean diet may lower risk of cancer.
Research shows that this diet can help fight cancer, because it contains high amounts of antioxidants, omega 3s, polyphenols, and fiber.
Antioxidants fight free radicals which damage cells and increase risk of cancer. Several studies show that olive oil can lower risk of bowel and colon cancer.
6. Mediterranean diet may lower risk of diabetes.
Adhering to this diet can help control excess insulin and balance blood sugar levels. The Mediterranean diet is also low in sugar. This means you won’t experience regular blood sugar spikes which may increase risk of diabetes.
7. Mediterranean diet may reduce stress.
Stress has lots of negative effects on our health. It weakens our immune system and causes weight gain and sleeplessness. Luckily, following the Mediterranean diet can reduce stress, because it’s so rich in vegetables. Eating more veggies can actually reduce stress and help you stay happy.
8. Mediterranean diet may improve skin health.
This diet contains vitamins and minerals that will keep your skin healthy. For instance, the antioxidants and vitamin E found in olive oil will keep your skin radiant. Red wine also contains resveratrol, which help keep the skin healthy.
9. Mediterranean diet fights inflammation.
Mediterranean diet staples are rich in antioxidants that fight inflammation. Mediterranean foods which fight inflammation include: dark green veggies, egg yolks, red wine, and beets.
10. Mediterranean diet may boost your mood.
Healthy fats have been proven to reduce depression and boost mood. Olive oil and avocados are great sources of healthy, unsaturated fats that can improve your mood and boost energy levels.
Many foods can help keep your heart at its best. Some help lower your blood pressure. Others keep your cholesterol in line. So add these items to your shopping cart:
This ocean-going fish is a top choice because it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids. “Omega-3s have an anti-clotting effect, so they keep your blood flowing,” says Rachel Johnson, PhD, RD, Bickford Professor of Nutrition at the University of Vermont. They also help lower your triglycerides (a type of fat that can lead to heart disease).
Aim for at least two servings of oily fish each week, says the American Heart Association. A serving is 3.5 ounces. That’s a little bit bigger than a computer mouse.
Other options: Tuna, trout, sardines, and mackerel.
Nibbling on 5 ounces of nuts each week may cut your risk of heart disease in half. Walnuts have lots of “good” fats. When you use these monounsaturated fats in place of saturated fats (such as butter), you cut your “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise your “good” HDL cholesterol.
Walnuts are also a good source of omega-3 fats. (They don’t have the same kind of omega-3s as fish, though.)
Other options: Almonds, cashews, pistachios, flaxseed, and chia seeds.
These berries are loaded with polyphenols -- antioxidants that mop up damage-causing free radicals in your body. They also deliver fiber and vitamin C, which are both linked to a lower risk of stroke.
Other options: Any berries -- strawberries, blueberries, blackberries -- are great choices. Fruits and vegetables in general are excellent choices because of their nutrients and fiber.
- Fat-Free or Low-fat Milk or Yogurt
“Dairy products are high in potassium, and that has a blood-pressure-lowering effect,” Johnson says. When you choose low-fat or fat-free dairy, you get little to no saturated fat, the kind of fat that can raise your cholesterol.
Other options: Most fruits and vegetables also have some potassium, Johnson says. Bananas, oranges, and potatoes are especially good sources.
Chickpeas and other legumes (lentils, other kinds of beans) are a top-notch source of soluble fiber -- the kind of fiber that can lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol. If you buy canned beans, look for low-sodium or no-salt-added varieties (sodium can raise your blood pressure). Rinse them in water to wash off any added salt.
Other options: Eggplant, okra, apples, and pears are also good choices for soluble fiber.
Oats have a type of fiber (called beta-glucan) that lowers your LDL cholesterol. One and a half cups of cooked oatmeal or a little over a cup of cooked barley gives you the amount of beta-glucan you need daily to help lower your cholesterol.
Other options: You can also find beta-glucan in barley, shiitake mushrooms, and seaweed.
- Olive oil
A cornerstone of the traditional Mediterranean diet, olive oil is a great pick when you need to limit saturated fat (found in meat, whole milk, and butter). Fats from animal products, and trans fats (“partially hydrogenated oils”) raise your “bad” cholesterol and can make fat build up inside your arteries.
Other options: Canola oil and safflower oil.
- Dark Chocolate
Cacao, the plant from which chocolate is made, is rich in flavanols, which can help lower your blood pressure and prevent blood clots. It also acts as an antioxidant, which can keep “bad” cholesterol from sticking to your artery walls.
Choose dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) to get more flavanols and less sugar, Johnson says. (Sugar raises your risk of heart disease.)
Other options: Think beyond the bar. Choose natural cocoa powder over Dutch-processed to get more flavanols. (Check the label to make sure you don’t get too much sugar.) For a totally unsweetened take, try cacao nibs. Add them to your granola.
These fruitsget their creamy texture from “good” (monounsaturated) fats, which lower your “bad” cholesterol.
“They also seem to have an anti-inflammatory effect, so you don’t get chronic inflammation that makes atherosclerosis -- the hardening of artery walls -- worse,” Johnson says.
Use mashed avocado as a spread in place of butter, or add cubes of it to salad, or over black bean chili. As delicious as they are, avocados are high in calories, so keep your portions modest.
Other options: Nuts and sunflower oil.
10. Unsalted almond butter
Nut butters are great on whole-grain toast instead of butter. They’re a wonderful source of monounsaturated fatty acids. Use unsalted, natural options to avoid added salt, sugar, and hydrogenated fats found in other forms of peanut butter, Johnson says.
Other options: Unsalted peanut butter or any other unsalted nut butter.
- Red Grapes
These juicy fruits have resveratrol, which helps keep platelets in your blood from sticking together.
That may partly be why red wine -- in moderation (1 glass for women, 2 for men) -- may have some heart-healthy advantages over other types of alcohol. But health experts don’t recommend that anyone start drinking, because alcohol does have some health risks.
Love your nightly glass of wine? You can ask your doctor to make sure your serving size is OK for you. And feel free to go for grapes straight from the vine anytime.