Most wouldn’t turn their noses up at the chance of living a Mediterranean lifestyle; sun, sea, and relaxation. But new research has shown that the diet of the Med really is one of the best ways to boost your health.
It stands to reason that a large helping of fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts is great for your health, and a new study now highlights that the diet, with added extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts may well improve the brain power for older people far better than a low-fat diet.
This combined with the latest research suggesting that a Mediterranean diet, regular exercise, a being a normal weight and not smoking give the most benefits for a longer healthier life, it’s no wonder we’re all suddenly reaching for the olive oil.
The Mediterranean diet has been proven to include the following benefits:
· Protecting against type 2 Diabetes
Rich in fibre, fruit and veg, this slows down the digestive process and prevents huge swings in the body’s bloody sugar.
· Fighting against heart disease and stroke
Refined foods are limited in a Med diet – processed foods are a no-no, and it encourages drinking red wine rather than spirits and liquor. Red wine, fruits and vegetables are all linked to heart disease and stroke prevention.
· Preventing against the ageing process
A Mediterranean diet may reduce a senior's risk of developing muscle weakness and other signs of frailty by about 70 percent.
So where do you start in terms of following the Mediterranean way? We may want to eat like they do on the continent, but we don’t always enjoy the sunshine and lifestyle that they have in places such as Italy and Greece.
Here are some tips in eating the Mediterranean way:
Turn you meals into a rainbow
A variety of natural colours on your plate means you get the maximum amount of antioxidants from your plate. Think about the deep reds of tomatoes, yellow peppers, green beans, purple aubergines, mixed salad leaves, white fish or cheese for protein.
Boost your fruit and veg
It’s much easier to get hold of delicious looking fruit and veg in the summer months, when things are in season. But it’s important to make sure you’re eating a variety of greens all year round. Try thinking about ingredients you might not usually go for. Instead of your standard Sunday roast veg – carrots, peas, broccoli, and potatoes – why not try something a little more exotic? Pick aubergines, beef tomatoes, radishes, beetroots. You’ll boost your culinary expertise by getting new ingredients – as well as boosting your health.
Use the good fat
We’ve become a little bit frightened of fat in this country, but some fats are good for us and we shouldn’t eliminate all the fat in our diet. If your cholesterol drops too low then you are putting yourself at a greater risk of depression, so eat the good fats to stay happy. Good fats include foods rich in Omega-3 which are nuts such as almonds, walnuts and brazil nuts, fish, lamb, avocados and green leafy vegetables. When you have a little fat in your diet, vitamins from your food are also absorbed into your body more efficiently.
Cooking with olive oil is also a boost to your health – ditch the vegetable oil though which will clog up your arteries.
Pick your meat wisely
Think about where your meat has come from. Whatever it has been eating will pass down the food chain to you. Choose meats that have been reared outdoors on grass, preferably free range or organic where you can. Steer clear of anything that has been fed with hormones. The less rubbish in the meat, the less rubbish goes into you.
Experiment with herbs and spices
We think of herbs and spices adding flavour – but not necessarily about the boost they can have to our health. Cinnamon balances blood sugar, oregano, rosemary and garlic increase blood flow to the brain, curry and chilli act as anti-inflammatory and saffron is anti-depressant. The Mediterranean diet uses lots of flavours through herbs and spices, garlic and chilli.
Eat breakfast the Mediterranean way
Take time to eat properly in the morning. Us Brits are renowned for speeding out the door with maybe a snatched piece of toast at best. Eating in the Mediterranean is a drawn out, relaxed affair, which ensures that you get all the energy you need to set you up for the day and prevents snacking on unhealthy foods later on. Fruits and yoghurts, eggs, nuts and cereals all help energise you for the day ahead with plenty of vitamins to boost your health. Having a good breakfast helps with concentration and learning, and helps keep you in high spirits.
Combine your Mediterranean diet with regular exercise and you’re helping to prevent disease and live a long and healthy life.
by Kath Webb
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by Kath Webb
by Kath Webb
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