In recent years, the Mediterranean diet has dominated the rankings for being full of good nutrition, easy to follow and having a colourful palette.
There are a few diets that promote a healthy lifestyle, and the one that is widely acclaimed for its health benefits is the Mediterranean diet. According to the US News & World Report, the Mediterranean diet is ranked No.1 on its 40 Best Diets for 2023, citing some health benefits such as weight loss, cancer prevention, heart health and diabetes prevention and control.
The Mediterranean diet is a style of eating that is commonly followed in around 21 countries that border the Mediterranean Sea like Italy, France, Spain, Malta and Greece. It is also considered the most popular plan among dieticians because of the health benefits it offers.
Here’s everything you should know about the Mediterranean diet and its health benefits –
What is the Mediterranean diet?
It is mainly a calorie-restricted diet that focuses on plant food, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, red meat, fish and eggs, mixed with olive oil and a moderate amount of dairy foods like yoghurt. On the other hand, the Mediterranean pattern focuses on avoiding processed foods that are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats including cookies, cakes, white bread and rice.
According to Healthline, the Mediterranean diet has been linked to several health benefits, such as:
Helps in weight loss
Including plant-based foods, green veggies and fruits in your diet help in reducing your weight. Mediterranean diet also limits the consumption of processed foods and added sugars, which could promote weight loss.
Improves heart health
Following a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts and olive oil lead to significant improvements in cholesterol and blood pressure levels, both of which are high-risk factors for heart diseases. It also reduces the prevalence of metabolic syndromes ( a condition that may cause a heart stroke).
Protects against diabetes
According to the reports, the Mediterranean diet could protect against type 2 diabetes, as one avoids eating processed food that is high in sugar and unhealthy fatty foods like white bread, cakes and cookies. Following this diet helps in lowering blood sugar levels, and also improves the body’s ability to use insulin.
The Mediterranean diet includes less spicy, non-oily food and dairy products (like yoghurt) which helps to reduce levels of inflammation and prevent illness.
Here is the list of healthy foods that you can include in the Mediterranean diet:
Fruits: apples, oranges, kiwis, strawberries, melons, apricots
Vegetables: spinach, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, onions
Legumes: lentils, beans, chickpeas, peanuts
Whole grains: millets, quinoa, couscous, oats, brown rice
Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, pistachios, chia seeds, flax seeds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts
Dairy products: yoghurt, milk and less amount of cheese
Healthy fats: olives, avocados, olive oil, avocado oil
Herbs and spices: oregano, basil, thyme, coriander, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon