Benefits of Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is one of the most healthful diets on the planet. It’s also one of the best-researched. Broadly speaking, it features primarily fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and whole grains. It also includes fish, some dairy, limited meat, and little or no sugar. And no processed, packaged anything. Ever! And moderate amounts of red wine.
Since scientists first took note of the remarkable health of people living in the Mediterranean region in the mid-20th century, this dietary pattern has been proven again and again to yield vibrant health. People who follow this lifestyle enjoy significantly lower risks of numerous serious diseases.
These so-called “lifestyle” diseases are extremely common in the United States. They include cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and even Alzheimer’s disease. People who consistently stick to the Mediterranean diet are much less likely to succumb to these conditions. Their arteries are less likely to clog and stiffen with atherosclerosis, so heart disease is less common. Even cancer is less common.
Researchers have attempted to tease out specific components of the diet that may account for its benefits. Among other things, they note that it’s a high-antioxidant dietary pattern. Whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, and even olives and olive oil all contain plant-based antioxidant compounds.
Many common diseases are now viewed as inflammatory conditions. Arthritis, for example, involves inflammation of the joints. Even Alzheimer’s disease is now thought to be triggered by chronic inflammation in the brain. Inflammation is related to oxidative stress, and oxidative stress is relieved by dietary antioxidants. According to this model of disease, antioxidant-rich foods are good for you, therefore. Check back tomorrow, when I’ll talk more about specific components of this remarkably healthful diet.