The Mediterranean Diet
South Beach, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Scarsdale, Pritikin, low fat, low carb…what’s the right choice for a would-be dieter or health-conscious eater? One style of eating that is popular in the southern Mediterranean area, in countries such as Greece, Portugal, southern Italy, southern France and Spain, is appropriately named the “Mediterranean Diet.”
What’s so special about the Mediterranean Diet? Studies suggest that those who follow this diet receive the following health benefits:
- Decreased risk for cardiovascular disease
- Lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease
- Higher life expectancy rate
- Decreased risk for certain types of cancer
And even though as much as 40% of the daily caloric intake of this diet comes from eating fats, the type of fat that is consumed reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease. The reason? Olive oil. It’s a major source of antioxidants and a monosaturated fat that does not raise cholesterol levels.
This diet is considered healthier than northern European and American diets because it relies heavily on the daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, cheese and yogurt. Fish, a major source of omega-3 fatty acids, is consumed several times a week and red meat is limited to once or twice a month.
Another factor is thought to be that those who reside in the Mediterranean region as well as other parts of Europe do not rely on cars as their basic means to travel. Thus they are more apt to walk and get sufficient exercise.