The Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

             The problem with most weight loss diets is that they offer no other benefit aside from weight loss. And a short-term weight loss at that. Being so, you might actually lose weight, but your health ends up damaged, and there’s also the chance of you developing disordered eating behaviors while following a restrictive diet. That’s what puts the Mediterranean Diet above the other options. The diet is not only effective for weight loss but leads to countless benefits that can improve many areas of your health.

•                    Better Health Heart

As you know, the main benefit associated with this diet and the reason why it was created, to begin with, is heart health. Researchers noticed that people who followed this eating pattern showcased stronger health and had less risk of heart diseases, which makes total sense, and many studies further prove this same assumption. In this trial published by the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers studied 7,000 people with diabetes and risk of cardiovascular disease for about five years. Those who followed the Mediterranean diet had a 30% lower risk of heart diseases. It’s vital to notice that the patients on this trial weren’t advised to do any exercise, and they didn’t count calories either. Results on people who lead overall healthy diets are expected to be even better. This study is one of the strongest proofs of the diet’s efficacy in improving heart health.

•                    Lower risk of stroke

We already know that the diet is excellent for heart health and can prevent many heart diseases, but the Mediterranean diet is especially beneficial to prevent strokes in women. This might happen thanks to the fact that this diet encourages the consumption of healthy sources of fat. You see, not all fats are bad, and neither is cholesterol. You have both HDL levels, which are known as “Good cholesterol,” and LDL levels, known as “bad cholesterol.” When talking about your diet, you have many different types of fats that can increase or decrease either HDL or LDL levels.

v  Monounsaturated Fats (Olive Oil, Nuts, Canola Oil, Avocados, Nut Butters, Olives, Peanut Oil, etc.)

v  Polyunsaturated Fats (Fatty Fish, Ground Flax, and Flaxseed Oil, Soybeans, Oysters, Walnuts, Chia Seeds, Hemp Seeds, etc.)

v  Saturated Fats (Butter, Ghee, Cakes, Biscuits, Fatty cuts of meat, Bacon, Sausages, Cheese, Cured Meats, etc.)

v  Trans Fats (Baked Goods, Microwave Popcorn, Pizza, Refrigerated Dough, Margarine, Fast Food, Junk Food, Fried Foods, etc.)

As you can probably notice, mono and poly fats food sources are filled with allowed options on this Mediterranean diet, which gives a hint about how beneficial they are. On the other hand, Saturated and Trans fats food sources are restricted or avoided on this diet. The reason for this is that saturated fat and Trans-fat can increase your LDL levels and reduce your HDL levels, while mono and poly fats do the opposite. Unlike what most people think, not only you shouldn’t be scared of mono and poly fats, they are actually necessary for your health and play a significant part in preventing heart problems. So not only should you want your LDL levels to be lower, but you should also work towards increasing HDL levels by consuming mono and poly fats food sources.

             LDL, or the “bad cholesterol,” takes the cholesterol to the arteries, and since LDL has bigger molecules than HDL, they can build up in the artery walls, causing atherosclerosis and increasing the risks of blood clots. On the other hand, HDL is smaller, so it can’t build up on the walls, and they also transport cholesterol to the liver, where it will be eliminated from the body. Thus, higher HDL levels are beneficial because they help your body eliminate all the excess cholesterol that could end up in your arteries. As you probably know, a blocked artery is what causes a stroke, which explains why the Mediterranean diet is effective in preventing it.

•                     Better Brain Health

Although the diet is mostly known for being good for heart health, it can provide quite excellent brain benefits. The foods allowed on a diet can improve memory and learning skills. This happens because your brain needs a constant flow of nutrients and oxygen, and when you’re consuming mostly junk food and fast food, which are “empty” calories, most filled with sugar, sodium, and fats, you’re failing to provide the brain with all the nutrients it needs. Not to mention, a good blood flow is critical to ensure that oxygen is reaching your brain, so if you’re having problems in your blood vessels, then less oxygen will reach the brain, causing cognitive decline.

This study looked to analyze the brain of 70 people with signs of dementia and score their health based on the food diet that they were following. In the end, those with an eating pattern closer to the Mediterranean guidelines showcased a much better higher score. On the other hand, those who scored lower showcased a higher amount of protein plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and their energy demand was also smaller. This is why the variation MIND Diet – Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet was created to improve cognitive abilities.

•                     Weight Loss

The Mediterranean diet focuses on whole, fresh foods, mostly fruits, legumes, and vegetables, as well as healthy sources of protein and fat. This drastically increases the nutritional value of your diet and allows for safe and sustainable weight loss. As a matter of fact, the diet was considered the No.1 Best Diet in Overall category by the U.S. News & World Report in 2019. Especially when talking about a long-term setting, eating a diet such as the Mediterranean is much more beneficial and prevents the yoyo effect.

Because the food items allowed here are also usually low in calories compared to fast food, the diet naturally makes you lose weight without the need to purposefully count calories. Because most of the food items are also rich in fiber and whole grains, the digestion is much slower, which means that it takes longer for the food to pass through your digestive system. This keeps Insulin levels stable and makes you stay full for longer.

A good nutritious diet can also enhance your body’s natural detox system. Your skin, liver, lungs, kidneys, and Lymph system can, when combined, remove most of the toxins and chemicals from the body. Thus, keeping these organs healthy is key, which can be accomplished with the foods encouraged on the Mediterranean diet. When it comes to weight loss, this will prevent bloating and fluid retention and enhance your overall health.

Last Words…

             Among the diets out there, the Mediterranean diet is one of the most effective for weight loss and can also offer many health benefits. Unlike most of the mainstream options out there, you can stick to this diet for a longer period of time as the food items allowed are flavorful and can enhance health. The diet is also very flexible and encourages exceptions as long as they remain like this, exceptions, not habits.

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