As November draws to a close, I wanted to talk about a way of eating that has been touted as the healthiest diet in the world.
November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, and we’ve been covering the topic extensively on our corporate blog.
Alzheimer’s disease is progressive mental deterioration that ends in complete infirmity and eventual death. Much is still unknown about the disease, but one thing is clear:
Following the Mediterranean Diet can reduce your chances of the disease. Fringe benefits include improving your heart health, brain health, energy levels, and overall physical well being.
These are ambitious claims for a diet to make, but eating in the Mediterranean way has proven health benefits. Let’s explore the diet and see how you can incorporate it into your own life.
The Mediterranean Diet: The Healthiest Diet on Earth
About 50 years ago, researchers discovered that Italians were living longer and healthier than Americans. In fact, all the countries along the Mediterranean Sea had lower incidences of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other age-related diseases.
Today, study after study has shown that the traditional cooking in those cultures is the source of their health and longevity. Here are just some of the scientifically proven benefits of the Mediterranean Diet:
- Lower levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
- Reduced risk of death from heart disease.
- Reduced overall risk of death.
- Lower incidence of cancer, including breast cancer among women.
- Lower risk of Parkinson’s disease.
- Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Improved ability to manage type 2 diabetes.
- Possible significant reduced risk of stroke among women.
In fact, if you go back to every article we’ve written on various age-related conditions and diseases, you would probably find recommendations in sync with the Mediterranean Diet. Following this lifestyle is the single-most effective steps you can take to maintain your health long-term.
So what does the diet include?
Here are the key components of the heart-healthy eating plan:
- Eating mostly plant-based foods. These include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. Leafy greens are especially beneficial.
- Substituting healthy fats, such as olive oil and canola oil, in place of butter.
- Limiting salt, and using a rich variety of spices and herbs to flavor your food instead.
- Eating red meat no more than once a week.
- Eating lean meats, such as poultry, and fish around twice a week.
- Avoiding processed foods, especially those with a lot of sugar, trans fats, and fake flavorings.
- Exercising regularly and responsibly.
Following the Mediterranean lifestyle isn’t easy, but after a few weeks of eating real food and exercising, you’ll begin to feel much more energized. Your cholesterol levels will improve, you might lose that excess weight, and your heart will do better.
Even if you can’t give up all aspects of the standard (and unhealthy) American diet, even making some smaller changes can provide huge health benefits.
Here are some to get you started:
- Drink flavored seltzer or water instead of cola.
- Snack on roasted, unsalted nuts instead of potato chips.
- Make one day a week your “vegetarian day,” and eat only fresh, plant-based foods that day.
- Start taking a brisk, 20-minute walk every day.
- Use canola cooking spray, instead of butter, to fry your morning omelet.
- Visit your local farmers market and stock up on fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables. Then grab one anytime you feel the munchies.
I hope these ideas can help jump start your journey to a healthier you. Let us know in the comments what aspect of the Mediterranean diet you’re going to incorporate into your current lifestyle!