Managing weight

Managing weight

May 18, 2018

Could the Mediterranean diet really help your health?

Image credit: iStock/alicjane

The Mediterranean diet is one of the biggest trends in recent years, with plenty of people arguing that it has helped them lose weight and live a healthier life. However, is it really a sustainable way to live, or is it just another fad that will fade over time?

Unlike a lot of trendy, unsustainable diets, eating Mediterranean doesn’t involve obsessive calorie counting, fasting, cutting out a particular macronutrient or anything extreme. It simply means eating a diet consisting mainly of fruit and veg, grains and fish; eating less meat and dairy; and replacing butter and other saturated fats with olive oil.

This makes it seem like less of a fad and more of a sustainable lifestyle choice. But even if you keep it up for the rest of your life, is it actually going to do you any good? The scientific evidence suggests that the answer is yes. Eating Mediterranean has been hyped up over the last few years, but it has some very definite health benefits.


It’ll help you live longer

The benefit of the Mediterranean diet being so widespread over the last few years is that plenty of studies have been done on its effects. One of these comes from no less than the World Health Organisation (WHO), which conducted a review of a range of research to uncover just how good the diet is at preventing disease.

The results were clear: eating Mediterranean helps with just about everything, as long as you adhere to it strictly. Doing so is associated with lower risks of all types of cancer, especially breast, colorectal, gastric, head, neck and prostate. WHO also found that it can reduce the risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack by as much as 30 per cent.

The diet also helps prevent type 2 diabetes in those who don’t already have it, whereas for diabetics it helps them better control their glucose levels. It’s even been associated with a reduced risk of developing cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and has been linked to the slowing or even halting of their progression in sufferers.


It improves your eyesight

One of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet is that it’s not based around a single ‘superfood’, but incorporates a range of healthy items into balanced meals. However, several of the foods included in the diet have a range of exciting health benefits on their own, adding to the overall effectiveness of eating Mediterranean.

For example, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a range of foods to keep your eyes healthy, and a lot of them match up with the Mediterranean diet. Green peppers and tomatoes, for example, contain valuable Vitamin C, while the excellent antioxidant Vitamin E can be found in nuts like almonds and pecans.

Nuts also contain valuable fatty acids, as does fish, and these are recommended as a good source of protein in the Mediterranean diet. The ophthalmology edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that eating these foodstuffs regularly helped protect against age-related macular degeneration, one of the main causes of blindness.


It can help you perform better at the gym

Obviously, any diet that helps you lose weight will allow you to do better at your gym sessions. If you’re carrying fewer pounds, it will be easier to run, swim and lift weights. However, eating Mediterranean has an additional benefit that will help you put in that extra bit of effort during your workouts.

This is a benefit that has unfortunately only been observed in men, but a diet with plenty of monounsaturated fats – which are found in olive oil and nuts – has been found to increase testosterone levels. This hormone helps you perform better and build more muscle during your workouts, making it perfect for fitness fanatics.


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