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Mediterranean Diet Benefits..Protect Your Heart and Enjoy a Longer Life!

Mediterranean Diet Benefits

The swinging sixties hadn't started yet, the Beatles were just a little known group from the north of England, and mini skirts had yet to hit the 'scene'..and scientists were very curious. About what?

mediterranean diet benefits, health benefits Well, the rate of heart disease in the US was skyrocketing, but the folks in Greece, well they had some of the lowest heart disease rates in the world.

Here is the curious part. The Greeks were enjoying fine health, even though their diet notched up nearly 40 percent of its calories from fat..and on top of that they were generally washing down their grub with a glass or three of wine!

Scientists had to get to the bottom of this. So, off they trotted to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea..and discovered it wasn't just the Greeks who were living longer and healthier, it was also their neighbours..the French, Italians and Spanish.

How come?

The answer was simple enough really. The Med diet includes lots of vegetables and legumes, as well as fruits, fresh whole-grain breads, dates and nuts. Meats such as lamb and chicken were only served in small portions and not very often. Their main source of fat in their diet is monounsaturated fat from olives and olive oil..not the saturated type fat derived from amimal foods. To top it all, they were all getting a lot of exercise in the day.

So, there it is in a nutshell, no secrets..the key to a longer, happier and healthy life.

But just how good are the traditional Mediterranean diet benefits?

In a French study of 600 men who had recently had a heart attack, half of the men were put on a traditional Med diet..and the other half on a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet that people with heart disease are typically told to follow. The result?

Those following the Mediterranean diet has a 70 percent lower rate of recurrent heart problems than those following the recognised low-fat diet. There is your answer right there!

There have been numerous other studies with pretty much the same results as the one mentioned above.

Other Health Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

  • It can have a positive effect on cholesterol and insulin resistance
  • It can lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, heart attack and heart disease
  • It can lower the risk of cancer in obese patients and patients who have had a heart attack
  • People find that they have an easier time sticking to a Med diet compared to a low-fat diet

mediterranean healthy eating, Mediterranean Diet Benefits..The Fat Factor

The Med diet is good for the heart and there are many reasons for this, but perhaps the most important is where it gets its fat. The principal fat used in the diet is olive oil, with total fat intake ranging from 25 percent to 35 percent of total calories.

It's true that folks in the Med countries eat as much, or even more fat than we do, however the key is that they eat relatively little meat. Red meat is very rarely eaten, whilst fish and poultry is eaten every week.What does this important fact mean? That they consume only minuscule amounts of saturated fat..the stuff that clogs your arteries..and you know what that means? Hello heart attack!

So, by limiting saturated fat and replacing it with monounsaturated fat, like oilve oil, which contains antioxidant compounds that help prevent chemical changes in the body that can cause the LDL (bad) cholesterol sticking to the lining of the artery walls, the heart will benefit greatly and last much lomger!

What is the second most common form of fats in the Med diet? Nuts! They contain alpha-linolenic acid. Now, our bodies convert this to the same kind of heart-healthy fats that we find in fish, also a regular food in the diet. This is more great news for the heart as studies have shown that people who get the most of these fatty acids are the ones least likely to have heart disease.

Hold on, don't run out and start adding lashings of olive oil and nuts to your diet. You see, it's not just the diet that makes people in the Mediterranean countries so healthy. They also tend to do a lot of walking, hard physical labor and they are generally more active..and stay that way.

Ok, they do take a lot of calories on board from fat, but they are usually able to keep their weight under control as well.

Mediterranean Diet Benefits..Final Words

The Med diet emphasizes seasonally fresh and locally grown fruits over highly processed foods that do not contain many micronutrients and antioxidants. Fresh fruit is generally a dessert. Studies have shown that people who eat fresh fruit and veggies have fewer problems with heart diease, thanks to the antioxidant vitamins and other healing compounds in these foods.

So, I think we can all see what the amazing health benefits a Mediterranean Diet can offer. For optimal health, choose a plant-based diet, which is naturally high in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, and low in fat, cholesterol and sodium.

Your good health!

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