5 Surprising Health Benefits Of The Mediterranean Diet
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Today is kind of a big day for me, friends! I’m beyond excited to tell you that I wrote a cookbook on the Mediterranean Diet. And it’s officially out! As in, look for it in your favorite book store, on Amazon, or any place you buy books.
I really wanted this book to be more than just a collection of recipes. It’s also designed to be a guidebook for anyone who’s new to the diet. It’s full of interesting information on the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Some of which you probably know, but also, many benefits you might not know about. It also includes
- money-saving tips when shopping for two
- what to stock in your pantry
- what to buy (or not buy) in bulk
- how to eat according to the Mediterranean diet pyramid
- 100 easy Mediterranean recipes that are portioned for two meals
Why Eat a Mediterranean Diet?
It’s no secret that the Mediterranean diet can help reduce your risk of heart disease. It’s great for reducing cholesterol levels and inflammation. Both promote cardiovascular disease – including heart attacks and strokes. Chances are if you’ve had a heart attack, or are at risk, you’ve heard it mentioned more than a few times. And, yes, a Mediterranean diet will help your heart stay healthy.
But as I dug into the research, I discovered that this eating pattern is good for SO much more.
I cover it in more detail in The Mediterranean Diet for Two, but in case you’re wondering what the fuss is all about, here are 5 other Mediterranean diet health benefits in a nutshell.
It improves your blood sugar
The Mediterranean diet is great if you have diabetes, prediabetes, or a family history of diabetes. It’s not necessarily low carb, but the carbs you eat come from whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and Greek yogurt. They’re all low glycemic carbs that help to keep your blood sugar in a healthy range. While there’s room for desserts and sweets, they’re reserved for special occasions. Once you get into the habit of eating that way, your blood sugar tends to improve.
Interestingly, including olive oil with your meal is also linked with healthier blood sugar levels after your meal. And olive oil is a major player in this diet.
The Mediterranean diet helps with weight loss
If you’re sick of weighing, measuring, counting, and eliminating, this is the diet for you! It’s not to say that you can eat everything on the Mediterranean diet food list, but if you follow the general guidelines in the Mediterranean diet pyramid, you’ll probably lose weight. And importantly, research shows it’s especially effective for losing belly fat.
It’s because meals and snacks are high in fiber and lean proteins. There’s a big emphasis on fish, vegetables, and legumes. In general, the Mediterranean diet foods list includes lots of foods that are all very filling, but low in calories. If you eat more of these foods even just a few times each week, you’ll likely drop a few pounds.
It improves brain health
Most of us don’t give enough thought to the health of our brains. In fact, diet plays a huge role in cognitive function (or decline), as well as anxiety, depression and other mood disorders. Foods like nuts, olive oil, olives and fatty fish in the Mediterranean diet contribute healthy fats which actually help your brain to work better. They also reduce inflammation in your brain and throughout your body.
On the flip side, eating lots of refined carbs, sugar and processed foods causes a faster decline in cognitive function. These foods also seem to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Research on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet shows that it may reduce the risk and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. There’s a lot of overlap between the Mediterranean diet and the MIND diet for dementia.
The Mediterranean diet is also linked with less depression and mood disorders as you age. Especially if it’s started when you’re younger.
The Mediterranean Diet Can Reduce Your Risk of cancer
No one knows for sure what causes cancer, and of course, there’s no one food that can cure cancer. However, scientists do know that diets that are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds can help protect the DNA in your cells from damage. That damage can trigger the growth and spread of cancer cells.
Plant foods, especially colorful fruits and vegetables, all nuts, and seeds, and olive oil are full of those antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, so it makes sense that the Mediterranean diet can reduce cancer risk.
Specifically, research shows people who eat a Mediterranean diet have a lower risk of these cancers:
- head and neck
It can help manage an autoimmune disease
Autoimmune diseases are often caused by a perfect storm of environmental toxins, stress, infection, and poor diet. Depending on the condition, you may need medicine to feel better. However, medication usually only treats the symptoms. To truly manage an autoimmune disease it’s essential to fix all of the root causes. That includes following a diet that reduces inflammation.
I’ve mentioned inflammation a few times already, and you might be wondering exactly what it is. Simply, inflammation is your body’s response to a foreign invader. When you have a cold, flu or any kind of an illness, or if you scrape your knee, or get a cut, your immune system sends in the forces to help you heal.
When you develop an autoimmune disease, your body thinks there’s something attacking you, but since there’s no foreign invader, your immune system starts attacking healthy cells. They could be cells anywhere in your body. An attack on your thyroid can cause Hashimoto’s hypothyroid. One on your gut can cause Crohn’s or celiac. An attack on your joints can cause rheumatoid arthritis.
An anti-inflammatory diet helps to calm that attack from your immune system, so your body can start to heal.
All of the foods on the Mediterranean diet food list have anti-inflammatory properties. If you eat them frequently, and cut out pro-inflammatory foods like sugar, refined carbs (white flour), and unhealthy fats from processed foods, you WILL start to feel better.
Have I inspired you to try the Mediterranean diet yet?! It’s pretty clear there’s something in it for everyone. Also – it’s full of color, flavor, texture, and it’s pretty delicious!
Check out The Mediterranean Diet for Two to start your journey toward better health today!