Research suggests that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest diets that reduce the risk of chronic diseases and lower the mortality rate. While the diet is not strictly specific, its general guidelines perfectly blend flavor and nutrition and are getting massively popular among the masses.
This article covers everything you need to know to start on a Mediterranean diet plan. We talk about its origin, effectiveness, and health benefits in light of scientific studies. The post also discusses possible side effects and complications associated with the diet.
What Is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet entails the traditional recipes and cultural eating habits from the Mediterranean countries like France, Italy, Greece, and Spain.
Essentially popular as a diet with no restrictions, the Mediterranean diet does not entirely regulate your eating habits. Instead, it only emphasizes the incorporation of healthy, unprocessed, high-nutrition food, including legumes, fish, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, in the diet.
Interestingly, unlike many other diets, the Mediterranean plan does not prohibit alcohol consumption. In fact, red wine, being a low-carb and low-fat drink, is a significant part of Mediterranean culture and diet.
The minimal restrictions and excellent, long-term results have led the Mediterranean diet to be a go-to choice for health and fitness. Here’s a small list of things excluded from the diet plan:
- Refined sugar
- Excessive alcohol
- Red meat
- Refined grains
- Processed oil
- Excessive alcohol (only red wine is allowed)
Potential Benefits Of The Mediterranean Diet
Following are some of the fact-backed potential benefits of the Mediterranean diet:
Enhanced Cognitive Functions
A study analyzing the effects of the Mediterranean diet in relation to brain development shows that strict adherence to the diet plan boosts cognitive functions and reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Fish, a natural brain supplement, is an important part of the Mediterranean diet. It comprises omega-3 fatty acids and other essential nutrients imperative for brain growth. This ensures the appropriate development of brain networks in children and prevents common, possibly life-threatening neurological disorders associated with cognitive decline in adults.
Better Cardiovascular Health
One research study shows a significant reduction in risk of cardiovascular disorders in people who consumed a Mediterranean diet, mainly attributed to low cholesterol content in the heart-healthy eating plan.
The diet encourages the use of healthy fats (primarily through olive oil) with low-density lipid-protein. This effectively prevents fat buildup from clogging coronary arteries, consequently resulting in lesser heart diseases.
Better Management Of Diabetes And Insulin Sensitivity
A study suggests that the Mediterranean diet can help in better management of type 2 diabetes.
Fluctuating blood pressure is a common diabetes complication. The low cholesterol in Mediterranean food keeps the blood pressure in check. Moreover, it also improves insulin sensitivity and regulates the blood sugar level, significantly easing the presenting symptoms of the disease.
Long Term Weight Loss
The Mediterranean diet not only prevents and/or improves chronic disorders but also helps reduce weight. In fact, according to research, Mediterranean cuisine is comparatively better than low-fat diets for better and lasting weight loss.
Healthy skin is another proven advantage of the Mediterranean diet.
Extra virgin olive oil is an important part of the diet plan. The high content of anti-inflammatory substances present in the oil modulates the free radicals in the skin, healing and preventing breakouts. This implies reduced signs of aging and overall, younger-looking skin.
Side Effects Of The Mediterranean Diet
Being an all-natural diet that includes a healthy amount of all essential nutrients, the Mediterranean diet does not have serious complications. However, certain minor side effects are linked to the diet plan:
- Low levels of iron: Mediterranean diet emphasizes on intake of unprocessed food, which reduces meat consumption. Sometimes, this can result in a nutritional imbalance (low iron levels. Incorporating leafy vegetables into your diet is an easy way to avoid low iron.
- Calcium Loss: The diet plan does not particularly focus on dairy products, which can lead to calcium loss.
- Weight Gain: Although the diet plan includes the use of olive oil, consuming the oil and nuts in large amounts can have adverse effects on your body weight.
To avoid the above-listed complications, consulting a nutritionist to come up with a personalized Mediterranean diet plan is imperative.
Amidst the rising rate of chronic disorders and alarming decline in cognitive abilities, the Mediterranean diet can be an easy savior.
Backed by years of research and recommended by experts, the Mediterranean diet comprises a practical and healthy eating plan that ensures the provision of all essential nutrients required by the body.
Despite all its benefits, it is critical to remember that when following the Mediterranean diet, improper regulation of dietary patterns can lead to a nutrition imbalance. Therefore, it is essential to always consult a skilled dietician for a personalized Mediterranean diet plan.