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Mediterranean diet for better health


Mediterranean diet for better health

The Mediterranean Diet is abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil, and perhaps the world's healthiest diet.

A report in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at the dietary habits of more than 10,000 women in their 50s and 60s and compared them to how the women fared health-wise 15 years later. Women who followed a healthy diet during middle age were about 40% more likely to live past the age of 70 without chronic illness and without physical or mental problems than those with less-healthy diets. The healthiest women were those who ate more plant foods, whole grains, and fish; ate less red and processed meats; and had limited alcohol intake.

These kinds of foods are included in the Mediterranean-type diet, which is also rich in olive oil and nuts.

Cécilia Samieri, a researcher at Université Bordeaux in France, who conducted the study while a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, says that “Several mechanisms may be involved, including lowering inflammation and oxidative stress, both systemically and within the central nervous system. These are two general pathways underlying many age-related chronic diseases and health conditions, such as age-related brain diseases and mental health. Other potential mechanisms include notably improving glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity.”

Whole grains, legumes, fruit, and vegetables are packed with fibre, which slows digestion and helps control blood sugar. Monounsaturated fats in olive oil, nuts, and fish can have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help stave off heart disease and many other conditions.

Understanding the basic elements of a Mediterranean-type diet:

  •     Base every meal on fruits, vegetables, whole grains such as whole wheat bread, brown rice,  quinoa, wholemeal cous cous and bulgur), olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes such as lentils, dried peas and beans, seeds, herbs and spices.
  •     Eat fish at least two to three times per week.
  •     Eat moderate portions of cheese and yogurt daily to weekly.
  •     Eat moderate portions of poultry and eggs every two days or weekly.
  •     Eat red meat sparingly or limit to three-ounce portions.
  •     Drink plenty of water each day, and drink wine in moderation.  No more than one (5-ounce) glass a day for women, two glasses per day for men.

To jump-start your effort, here are five tips:

  1.     Sauté food in olive oil, not butter.
  2.     Eat more fruits and vegetables by having them as a snack or adding them to other recipes
  3.     Choose whole grains instead of refined breads and pastas
  4.     Substitute a fish meal for red meat at least twice per week
  5.     Limit high-fat dairy by switching to skim or 1% milk from 2% or whole.

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