Whether you consider yourself health conscious or not, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. While first popularized in the 1990s, this produce, fish and nut-heavy diet has proven itself to be more than a mere fad as more and more people are realizing the benefits of a heavily plant-based diet.
While there are countless studies touting the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, new research indicates that adopting this eating pattern now can lead to numerous benefits down the road. The study tracked over 10,000 women in their 50s over the course of 15 years. Their dietary and lifestyle habits were evaluated every two years and they underwent multiple tests to establish their current physical and mental health as well as their ability to remain active.
After 15 years, researchers found that those who maintained a Mediterranean-style diet were 40 percent less likely to develop chronic diseases and more likely to maintain overall mental and physical health.
While multiple health benefits of the diet are not a new discovery, coauthor of the study, Meir Stampfer, was still “surprised by the magnitude of the effects.”
“This really suggests that a healthy diet can help improve multiple aspects of your health and your ability to function when you’re older,” said researcher Fran Grodstein of the Harvard School of Public Health.
So what does the Mediterranean diet consist of? While most fad diets are far too hard to maintain and can be downright dangerous in some aspects, switching to a Mediterranean-style diet is far easier than you would think.
The basics of the diet include the following:
- Basing meals on fruit and vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
- Using olive oil and spices for seasoning.
- Eating fish twice per week while limiting meat consumption.
- Consuming moderate portions of lean meats, dairy and eggs.
- Drinking plenty of water and limiting alcohol.
If you’re looking to get started, there are some easy steps you can take to transition your diet:
- Use olive oil in place of butter.
- Incorporate organic fruits and vegetables into every meal.
- Look to add beans and other legumes to meals as a source of protein rather than meat.
- Replace breads and pastas with grains like quinoa, bulgur and brown rice.
- Substitute organic fish or lean meats for red meat.
- Look for nut or seed milks, cheeses and yogurts in replace of dairy products.
- Keep fresh organic fruit on hand for snacks to satisfy your sweet tooth.
- Avoid mixed drinks and beers, instead drink red wine sparingly (one glass daily for women and two for men).
The Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle approach to eating that will result in major benefits as you age. Begin small with swaps you can accomplish and work your way toward more changes. You will thank yourself down the road.
-The Alternative Daily