If you have ever been to the Mediterranean countries, you have an idea about the rich history and abundance of healthy, delicious food that is served nearly for every meal. It should come as no surprise, then, that this area of the world is also one of the healthiest, due in part to the diet those living in the area mostly adhere to. Scientists have long examined what makes this diet so effective at warding off bad health*.
The cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet is a strong focus on vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes. These are found in nearly every meal in some shape or fashion. Also commonly found in Mediterranean food is the ubiquitous olive oil, as well as grains, herbs, seeds, and spices.
After that, fish and seafood are most often found. It makes sense, too, as the Mediterranean civilizations have long since turned to the abundance of seafood found in the area. From shellfish like mussels and shrimp to fresh fish like cod, seafood plays an important role in the Mediterranean diet, and more often than not, it is the protein that appears on the plate. If not seafood, then more than likely poultry, eggs, cheese or yogurt.
Compare that to Western diets, which typically have a greater focus on starches, carbohydrates and red meats, and researchers begin to see a pattern as to why more people in the Mediterranean live healthy and happy lives. In fact, the latest research from PREDIMED indicates that the Mediterranean diet, when adopted wholly, has promise to help manage metabolic syndromes especially among those with high cardiovascular risk, central obesity, and hyperglycemia. Researchers pointed to the Mediterranean diet’s high content of “minerals, polyphenols, and other phytochemicals that combat oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance,” according to Dr. Salas-Salvado, who conducted the study.
Research is beginning to show the importance of dieting. In fact, meeting with a doctor to discuss certain conditions, your diet might be brought up. What does your usual meal schedule look like? What kind of foods do you eat the most? Do you think you would enjoy the Mediterranean diet?
*Note: there are many other factors that go into the health of Mediterranean people other than simply their diet. This blog post is in no way claiming that switching to the Mediterranean will improve your health, merely stating results shown in clinical studies.