Research has shown us that the Mediterranean diet has many benefits. However, many people, especially those in the United States, are slow to believe in them. The latest research continues to push this diet saying that it has an impact on the risk of heart disease.
The Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
Previous research has shown the Mediterranean diet benefits people’s health in many ways:
- Helps your bones
- Keeps your brain healthy and young
- Improves longevity
- Manages weight
- Lowers the risk of cancer
- Reduces the chance of cardiovascular diseases
The newest study supports these benefits to give the Mediterranean diet another healthy push in the direction of being a lifesaver for many who may be headed towards heart problems.
The study included 15,000 participants in 39 countries. All of them suffered from heart disease and had an average age of 67 years. Researchers analyzed their diet by asking them how many times a week they consumed:
- Whole grains
- Refined grains
- Sugary drinks
- Fried foods
The responses were scored with a Mediterranean diet score or a Western diet score depending on how much of each food they consumed. After four years, they followed up with participants to see how many of them had a cardiovascular event, such as a stroke, heart attack, or had passed away.
Researchers found the 100 people of those who scored high with the Mediterranean diet score suffered three fewer heart attacks, strokes, and deaths than those who didn’t eat that type of diet.
In conclusion, the study found that people who consumed Mediterranean foods reduced their risk of heart disease by one third.
Mediterranean foods are simple to find in your local grocery store. All you have to do is purchase them and create delicious meals by combining them in different ways. The following is a list of Mediterranean foods you should pick up the next time you go grocery shopping.
- Beans (White, kidney, black, red, pinto, green, navy)
- Chicken thighs
- Lean ground beef
- Bone-in pork chops
- Eye of round
- Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, blackberries)
- Collard greens
- Whole wheat pasta
- Whole wheat tortillas
- Brown rice
- 2% milk
- Greek yogurt
- Cheese (part-skim mozzarella and parmesan)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Canola oil
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, brazils, pistachios)
- Italian spice mix
- Chili powder
As you can see, there are many combinations you can make with these foods to cook delicious meals. For example, you can flavor chicken thighs with the Italian spice mix, bake it and eat it with some fresh squash and zucchini sautéed in a pan with canola or extra virgin olive oil.
Moderation Is Key
The Mediterranean diet is a great diet to focus on, but remember the best diet is one that incorporates moderation. If you eat many of these foods, you will gain weight. It still has a lot to do with calories in and calories burned. Be mindful of how much you eat to gain all of the benefits of these foods.
You probably noticed this list does not include sweets. Sweets are something many people have a difficult time controlling. Many experts say that sugar is just as much of an addiction as drugs. It’s important to limit the amount of sugar you consume. They are empty calories, which means they do not provide any nutrition to your body, so you will likely feel hungry after eating a sugary food. Enjoy a treat when you’re rewarding yourself for a job well done. This should not be every day.
Introducing a new diet can be difficult. Do the best you can as you learn to eat differently. Some days, you will be able to make good choices all day, while other days you may make some mistakes. Don’t give up on the diet because you think you can’t do it. Just try to incorporate as many of the Mediterranean foods as much as possible. It won’t be long before you start to eat them without even thinking about it, and that’s when you’ll start to gain all of the benefits.