The Mediterranean diet is the most widely promoted and scientifically proven healthy lifestyle in the world. Here’s all you need to know about it.
1. Weight management
The Mediterranean diet traditionally includes lots of fruits and vegetables. For example, residents of Greece average six or more servings a day of antioxidant-rich and colourful fruit and vegetables per day. Coupled with healthy fats (such as nuts and olive oil), protein from seafood and eggs, and minimal sweets – eating like a Greek provides all the key nutritional requirements to ensure healthy weight management.
2. Decreased risk for heart disease
The Mediterranean diet discourages trans fats and hydrogenated oils (trans fats), both of which contribute to heart disease. Olive oil is a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet and is the primary source of healthy monounsaturated fat — a type of fat that can help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. Used as a replacement to butter – go for about 6tsp of olive oil or ¼ of an avocado per day to get your intake of heart healthy fats.
3. It protects you from coughs colds and flus
Olive Leaf Extract (made from olive leaves) is traditionally used in countries surrounding the Mediterranean for centuries to support the immune system. Fresh-Picked™ Olive Leaf Extract has 400% more antioxidant power than the equivalent amount of Vitamin C (1), and when taken daily in liquid or capsule form can maintain general wellbeing.
4. It’s good for mind health
Due to its high antioxidant-rich content of extra virgin olive oil, mixed nuts and vegetables there is quite a lot of research to suggest that the Mediterranean diet can protect from diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia in later life.
5. It provides a great source of protein
Protein mainly from seafood and eggs is a Mediterranean staple. Eat at least two servings of oily fish per week: for example Atlantic and Australian salmon, blue-eye trevalla, blue mackerel, gemfish, canned sardines, and canned salmon, are high in Omega-3 acids to promote optimal heart health. Eggs commonly used by Greeks in frittatas and casseroles are also easily digested by the body. Limiting red meat to a few times a month is also recommended.
6. It’s packed with herbs and spices
Full of plant compounds with antioxidant and inflammation-fighting effects, Mediterranean staples such as basil, mint, parsley, bay leafs, thyme, nutmeg, cumin, turmeric and garlic make food tasty and can stand in for salt and fat in recipes.
7. Antioxidant power
Olive Oil, olives, nuts and seeds common to the Mediterranean diet provide a good source of disease fighting anitoxidants. Eat a serving of legumes (1/2 cup, cooked)—found in hummus or lentil soup—at least twice a week and a small portion of nuts daily (approx 10 almonds or walnut halves) can keep set you up for good health.
8. It’s made to be shared
Relaxed meals with family and friends are a core part of life in this region. Even a social occasional glass of red wine is recognised by the Mediterranean diet. This positive attitude toward eating helps improve digestion and may lower stress too.
For more information visit olea.com.au
Written by Stephen Eddey, Naturopath, Nutritionist and Principal of the Health Schools Australia.