The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest diets to follow. It represents the dietary pattern consumed in the 1960s among the Mediterranean Sea bordering populations. These individuals had some of the world’s longest life expectancies. Research shows that a Mediterranean diet can contribute to improving different health markers. Studies have shown that eating a Mediterranean diet can help lower levels of LDL cholesterol, prevent type 2 diabetes from developing, lower blood pressure, and help fight obesity. The diet is also associated with lower levels of inflammation, a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are some of the easiest ways you can begin eating more Mediterranean today.
1. Cooking with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The Mediterranean diet has a high ratio of healthy unsaturated fats to saturated fats, partly due to its high olive oil use. In particular, extra virgin olive oil was associated with anti-inflammatory properties. This may be because it contains oleocanthal, which is similar in structure to ibuprofen as a natural anti-inflammatory compound. It is easy to see why high consumption is associated with a significantly lower risk of heart attacks and stroke. Try to replace butter with olive oil on your favorite salads for some of the recipes you cook and drizzle some oil.
2. Snack on Nuts
Protein, fiber and healthy fats are provided by nuts like almonds, walnuts, and cashews. In one study, eating a Mediterranean nut diet was associated with a 28 percent reduction in the risk of combined heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease death. Studies show that eating moderately nuts can also help you lose weight. This is despite the high density of energy.
When you’re busy, nuts are a perfect snack, and it’s effortless to mix them into many other recipes. Just make sure that you avoid salted nuts because they can increase blood pressure.
3. Replace Refined Grains with Whole Grains
Whole grains contain high nutrient, mineral and fiber amounts. Although their shelf life is prolonged by refining the grains, this comes at removing those. This is because it removes the bran and germ from the refining process, leaving only the endosperm. The endosperm consists mainly of carbohydrates not containing any of the nutrients and fiber in the other parts of the grain. A higher risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes was associated with eating refined grains.
On the other hand, one study found women who ate two or more servings a day of whole grains were 30% less likely to die from inflammation-related conditions than those who rarely did. One of the most straightforward changes you can make is to make the switch to whole grain alternatives. Just swap for your whole grain alternatives for your white carbohydrates such as rice, bread, and pasta.
4. Season with Herbs and Spices Instead of Salt
In many cases, seasoning means adding salt and pepper. Too much dietary salt can result in high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. However, different herbs and spices can provide your meals with extra flavor depths and complexity. Many also have significant health benefits. Sage was linked to improvements in brain function, cinnamon to lower blood sugar levels,, and garlic to lower LDL cholesterol, for example, for example. Try to experiment in the same dish with various spices and see what works for you. There is no wrong way of spicing up your meals.
5. Replace Red Meat with Fatty Fish
Fish is an excellent source of lean protein. Most people also don’t get enough of them in many nutrients. These include fatty acids of vitamin A, D, and omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids were associated with a lower risk of heart disease, some cancers, and dementia. They are also thought to be useful in the development of the brain. Those who ate 2-4 servings of fish per week regularly were associated with a 15 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease in one study of over 40,000 health professionals.
Unprocessed red meat can be highly nutritious but often has high levels of saturated fats. Studies show that consumption of red meat is often associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality from cancer. Many fish dishes are delicious and easy to prepare, making it relatively easy to integrate as an evening meal into your diet.
6. Enjoy Your Bites
The Mediterranean diet is not only about the food you eat, but also about how you eat it. Compared to today, Mediterranean communities spent more time on their food. Excess body weight has been associated with fast eating. Data also suggests that eating slowly can help maximize fullness feelings and reduce the intake of calories in meals.
Try bonding with your friends and family to eat food. This should slow down your meal and subsequently reduce your need to snack. Try to really enjoy your food’s tastes rather than shoveling it all down.