The Mediterranean diet is a traditional diet that is usually followed by the people living in the Mediterranean region. Today, many dieticians and health experts consider the Mediterranean diet as the best plant-based diet to maintain health and lower the risk of many diseases. The Mediterranean diet contains a generous portion of legumes, whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, etc.
The Mediterranean diet is nutritionally rich and unlike most other plant-based diets, it includes meat, eggs, and dairy products. However, the meat and other animal products won’t be included in large quantities in this plant-based meal plan.
Health Benefits Of Mediterranean Diet
Here are some of the common health benefits of a Mediterranean diet.
Reduce The Risk Of Heart Disease
There are several studies which show that following a Mediterranean diet helps to lower the risk of developing heart disease. A study conducted over a period of 5 years looked at more than 7,000 men and women who suffered from type 2 diabetes and high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. During the period of the study, they ate a calorie-unrestricted Mediterranean diet. The researchers observed a 30% reduction in the risk of heart disease.
Reduce The Risk Of Stroke In Women
It was proven that following a Mediterranean diet could lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. In addition to that, this particular diet also helps in lowering the risk of stroke in women. A study conducted in the United Kingdom looked at 23,232 men and women that come in the age group of 40 to 77 and followed a Mediterranean diet. It was observed that the risk of developing a stroke was much lesser in women than men who followed the Mediterranean diet. Since women are at high risk of having a stroke than men, following this diet will reduce the risk by 20%.
Helps In Weight Loss
The Mediterranean diet mainly focuses on whole, fresh foods, it will be very helpful in weight loss and maintaining a healthy body weight. Studies have found that a calorie-unrestricted Mediterranean diet that contains a high amount of unsaturated vegetable fat is better than a low-fat diet in promoting weight loss and reducing your waist circumference. It was found that people who added extra-virgin oil and nuts to the Mediterranean diet lost the most weight.
Helps In Managing Type 2 Diabetes
There are several studies that suggest the Mediterranean diet for managing type 2 diabetes and to lower blood sugar levels. A study looked at a group of 418 people aged between 50 and 80 without diabetes and followed the Mediterranean diet. After 4 years, the researchers observed that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was 52% lower in the group. Another study proved that the Mediterranean diet is very helpful in managing the blood sugar levels in people who suffer from type 2 diabetes.
Helps In Managing Depression
In addition to providing a lot of health benefits to your body, a Mediterranean diet is also beneficial for your mental health. It was proven that the Mediterranean diet is very helpful in easing your depression. Observation studies have shown that following a Mediterranean diet will lower the incidence of depression. When compared to a standard American diet, the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of depression by 33%. However, the studies have not answered why the diet reduces the risk of depression.
Helps With Rheumatoid Arthritis
This autoimmune system mainly affects your joints and cause severe pain and swelling. The Mediterranean diet is rich in foods that contain high amounts of anti-inflammatory compounds that could reduce the inflammation in the joints. Studies have found that the Mediterranean diet is rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which are helpful in alleviating the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Foods To Be Included In The Mediterranean Diet
Here is the list of some of the main plant-based foods that are to be included in the Mediterranean diet.
One tablespoon of olive oil contains 13 g fat, 10 g monosaturated fat, 2 g saturated fat, and 120 calories. The high amount of monosaturated fat in olive oil helps in reducing heart disease risk by 19%.
4 g protein, 3 g monosaturated fat, 13 g polyunsaturated fat, 2 g fiber, 4 g carbohydrates, and 185 calories are present in one ounce of walnuts. Since walnuts are high in polyunsaturated fats, they could improve your digestive health and also help to lower the LDL cholesterol levels.
Tomatoes are rich in protein, fiber, calories, carbohydrates, sugar, etc. It also contains a powerful antioxidant called lycopene that helps in reducing the risk of breast and prostate cancer. Eating more tomatoes also helps in lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Half a cup of lentils contains 9 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 2 g sugar, 8 g fiber, and 115 calories. A recent study has found that replacing one-half of your serving of rice with lentils in your diet will help in lowering the blood glucose level by 20%.