Life benefits of the Mediterranean diet

Benefits of Mediterranean diet


What is the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating and a lifestyle shared by the people of the Mediterranean region.

All 16 countries that make up the Mediterranean coast feed similarly, although they may offer some different features depending on the region and culture.

In general terms, the Mediterranean diet is characterized by the abundance and diversity of plants (such as fruit, vegetables, cereals and legumes), the consumption of olive oil for cooking and dressing, fish, low fat dairy and moderate wine consumption.

Benefits provided by the Mediterranean diet have been studied over the last century because of the healthy status that the inhabitants of this region seem to enjoy, with a presumed lower incidence of some diseases.

First studies of the Mediterranean diet for health

Mediterranean diet food

Photograph of the foods that make up the Mediterranean diet

The properties of this diet were discovered by a scientist from abroad of this region, who learned to see the benefits of this eating style.

It was the “Study of seven countries“, an epidemiological study, led by American Ancel Keys, in the period from 1958 to 1964, which investigated the dietary habits of seven countries: the U.S., Japan, Finland, the Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Italy and Greece.

In this study, the Mediterranean countries showed clear evidence of the benefits of the food and lifestyle of their inhabitants, which was defined as Mediterranean lifestyle (“Mediterranean way”), and later was named as Mediterranean diet.

  • The Mediterranean diet is studied as an eating plan that includes the style of eating and living. It highlights the active lifestyle of the Mediterranean populations.

Mediterranean diet for cardiovascular health

The Mediterranean diet is particularly beneficial for the heart and circulatory system.

Its benefits are due in large part to the abundance of vegetables, high fiber and antioxidant compounds, and the presence of healthy fats Omega 3, 6 and 9 in perfect balance.

  • Reduce hypertension: the Mediterranean diet helps control blood pressure. It is one of the meal plans recommended for hypertension. Its effects are due to the presence of healthy fats, and consumption of onions and garlic plentiful with antihypertensive properties.
  • Improve cholesterol levels: the presence of Omega fats in the diet, nuts, olive oil and oily fish, helps lower bad cholesterol. It also assists in the process of fiber intake from vegetables.
  • Prevents atherosclerosis: the Mediterranean diet is rich in antioxidants, which prevent cholesterol buildup in the arteries. It also helps to increase good cholesterol, thus helping to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.
  • Fats of Mediterranean diet

    Vegetable foods rich in Omega-3

  • Olive oil and dry nuts do not raise cholesterol levels
  • Improves circulation: olive oil reduces the risk of thrombosis and vegetable plants have components that improve circula tion, as the lycopene found in tomatoes and peppers.
  • Regular consumption of olive oil and nuts, as practiced in the Mediterranean diet, reduces up to 30% the risk of cardiovascular disease.

*More information: Mediterranean diet for cardiovascular health

Mediterranean diet also benefits pulmonary system

As demonstrated by scientific studies, the Mediterranean diet halves the risk of lung disease.

These properties are due to this diet being rich in vitamis, notably vitamin E from olive oil and vitamin C from vegetables, as well as healthy fat and phytochemicals.

The extra virgin olive oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory power, what protects us against respiratory infections, allergies and asthma.

In a study on children in Crete, it was shown that regular consumption of fresh fruit, along with the Mediterranean dietary habits, help treat the symptoms of asthma and rhinitis. It is noted that among Crete’s population there is a low rate of allergic symptoms.

Another study suggests that the Mediterranean diet halves the risk of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), even in smokers.

Mediterranean diet improves diabetes

The fruits in the Mediterranean diet

Photo of fruits. Fresh fruit is abundant in the Mediterranean diet

The properties of the Mediterranean diet for cardiovascular health suggest the benefits of this eating plan for diabetes.

The Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of diabetes-associated diseases, such as cholesterol or hypertension. The predominance of vegetables in this diet helps regulate blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol, promotes circulation and prevents capillary fragility.

However, in the Mediterranean diet for diabetics some dietary aspects should be modified, in order to improve the tolerance to the diet.

*More information: Mediterranean Diet for Diabetes

Mediterranean diet for Alzheimer

The Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Due to the abundance of consumption of vegetables and olive oil, it is a diet which improves blood supply to the brain with high potential and antioxidant properties.

The Mediterranean diet has neuroprotective effects against brain stroke, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, senile dementia and peripheral neuropathy.

* More information: Mediterranean Diet for Alzheimer’s.

Mediterranean diet to improve cognitive abilities

Dry fruits in the Mediterranean diet

Picture of nuts, a source of healthy Omega fats for your brain.

The contribution of antioxidants which Mediterranean diet boasts about, such as in vegetables and olive oil, helps improve cognitive abilities and improve memory, as scientific studies have shown.

It is a very suitable diet for people with stress, students or people with memory loss in old age.

The Mediterranean diet allows the proper development of growth

Fish in the Mediterrranean diet

Picture of seafood, a protein and iodine source.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in iodine, due to consumption of fish and seafood regularly in the diet. Iodine is an essential mineral for the functioning of the thyroid gland, which regulates body metabolism.

Its deficit is associated with disease and growth problems such as goiter and cretinism, or mental retardation.

The iodine intake in healthy Mediterranean diet from fish, is a guarantee of growth and full physical and mental development.

The global concern about iodine deficiency resulted in table salt enriched with this mineral (iodized salt), which has managed to correct iodine nutritional deficiencies in many populations, where seafood consumption is low.

It is also a diet containing milk, rich in calcium, which promotes the full development of bone structure, sets strong bones and prevents osteoporosis.

Animal meat is less abundant food supply. Its presence in the diet is well described the following saying ” “Remember, meat as a condiment and not as food! “. Indeed, traditional Mediterranean diet is far from the excesses of carnivorism, which can cause bone decalcification.

* Related information: Foods in the Mediterranean diet.

punto rojoMore information on Mediterranean diet .

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

22 April, 2019

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