A Mediterranean diet is a major contributor to longevity, brain and cardiac health. This diet includes fruits, vegetables, fish, healthy fats, whole grains, and spices like oregano, dill, rosemary, and turmeric that have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and free-radical-quenching effects. Carve out time during your busy day to savor your meal in the sun, with your family and friends.
The word “Mediterranean” often evokes visions of a calm beach lined with palm trees, and a table full of seasoned olives, fresh-caught fish, succulent fruits, and a vibrant salad. This way of eating has been studied worldwide as a powerful contributor to longevity, brain health, and cardiac health. In fact, it’s one of the most well-studied diets on the planet!
Specifically, a recent study found that people who ate a Mediterranean diet had a 28% lower incidence of becoming cognitively impaired than those who didn’t eat the diet.
For those who developed cognitive impairment, staying strictly on the Mediterranean diet helped reduce progression to Alzheimer’s disease by 48% compared with the group of people who did not follow the diet. Another study found that mortality was reduced by 50% in 70 to 90-year-olds following the Mediterranean diet.
What Makes The Mediterranean Diet So Healing?
The staples of the diet – fruits and vegetables, fresh fish, healthy fats, whole grains, and spices – all have powerful health effects:
Fruits and vegetables are chock-full of nutrients that our body needs to function optimally. For example, orange fruits contain bioflavonoids that help keep the blood vessels open and prevent buildup or stagnation; leafy greens have chlorophyll, which acts as an antioxidant and promotes blood circulation; and indigo-hued berries boast resveratrol, an antioxidant that protects your brain and nerves and promotes neural plasticity. The benefits from fruits and vegetables go on and on!
Fresh fish, especially fatty fish like salmon, herring, and sardines, are full of omega-3 fats. This oily nutrient helps with a myriad of bodily functions, including supporting brain function and joint health.
Healthy fats, like fish oil, olive oil, or avocado oil, enable the body to work effectively on a cellular level, allowing nutrients to flow smoothly into cells while moving toxins out of the cell and the body.
Whole grains like quinoa, millet, and amaranth give your body the slow-burning energy it needs to get through the day without relying on quick fixes like caffeine. These grains are also high in B vitamins, which fuel the metabolic cycle in the body, among other things!
Restoring Body And Brain With Herbs And Spices
Healing diets in the Mediterranean use an abundance of herbs and spices to restore the body and brain: oregano, dill, tarragon, ginger, black peppercorns, rosemary, and turmeric, to name only a few. Herbs and spices have a multitude of properties that cheer us up, pique our taste buds, and support our health, including anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and free-radical-quenching effects.
The Ambience Matters
Another often overlooked benefit of the Mediterranean diet is the eating style and environment.
Often, meals in this area are relaxed events that take place over hours, usually in the company of family and friends. Compare this to the fast food culture in the U.S. and many other places – eating healthy food slowly and in company of your tribe can reduce inflammation, indigestion, and nutrient deprivation, as well as work wonders on your mood and emotions!
Harness the power of the Mediterranean diet by incorporating whole foods full of healthy fats and phytonutrients into your daily meals. Carve out time during your busy day to savor your meal in the sun, with your family and friends.