But lately I’ve been researching and reading about the Mediterranean diet, and I’m growing convinced that it’s the way to go. Not as a short-term weight loss plan, per se (although it does appear to help with that), but more as a long-term way of life. And that’s because the evidence is overwhelming that it can lead to a longer, healthier life.
The Mediterranean diet has also been shown to protect against the “big C”: many studies have shown the Mediterranean diet to reduce cancer risk .
The British Medical Journal published a big study a couple of years ago, concluding that the Mediterranean diet is associated with “a significant improvement in health status”, specifically: a reduction in overall mortality (9%), mortality from cardiovascular diseases (9%), cancer (6%), and incidence of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease (13%).
So what, exactly, do you eat if you’re trying to go Mediterranean?
real food, for starters
an emphasis on plant-based food: vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes
limited red meat, but plenty of poultry and fish
olive oil (pretty much replacing all your other fats, like butter)
fresh, seasonal food
wine in moderation
no eliminated food groups (except twinkies)
There’s much more detail out there, of course, if you’re interested. A wonderful resource for all things Mediterranean diet is Oldways . This is an organization on a mission to raise awareness about the health benefits (and joy) of this ancient way of eating.
When my husband and I were in Italy a few years ago, we made bruschetta in our little kitchen pretty much every day: fresh bread, fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil and salt…and if there’s a better taste combination out there, I’d like to find it. Sometimes, the simpler the food, the better.
Besides all the research, I am personally convinced that eating a Mediterranean diet is an effective way to adopt a healthy lifestyle for one other important reason: it is pure pleasure. And, therefore, something you’d be not only willing to do long-term, but happy to do.
Sure, there may be other ways you could improve your health and live longer. I happen to not believe there is one perfect diet for everyone. Some people may be able to stick to Dr. Esseltsyn’s ultra-low-fat/vegan diet , as an example. In fact, I have little doubt that if you really could stick to this kind of nutrition plan, your heart would be healthier. But for most of us, it would involve just too much sacrifice. And if you’ve been reading this blog for anything longer than five minutes, you’ll know that I’m all about enjoying life, enjoying food, and indulging whenever possible .