Top Ten Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet Plan

Benefits of the Mediterranean DietOn September 20, 2013, our team at the Saint Joseph’s Heart Center for Women will be hosting an event for you to “Reward Your Heart,” which will feature tastings of some of the healthy foods most commonly associated with the Mediterranean diet and an opportunity to chat casually with physicians, nutritionists and exercise specialists.

Check out more information on some of the foods you’ll find at the Reward Your Heart event and the many benefits they can bring!

  1. Lower Risk for Heart Disease: Many aspects of the Mediterranean diet are geared toward improved heart health and lowered risk of chronic disease such as heart disease. Fish and shellfish are key players in the Mediterranean Diet and contain potent amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are unsaturated fats that can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, and thereby reduce heart disease risk. Other foods in the Mediterranean Diet can also help lower your risk for heart disease. According to research studies, a small amount of (red) wine, for example, can help reduce your risk, as can the increased consumption of fruit and vegetables called for by the Mediterranean diet.
  2. Lower Cholesterol Levels: Instead of adding butter to your food, use olive oil as a healthy substitute. Olive oil is a core component of the Mediterranean diet and is rich in monounsaturated fats (the healthy kind of fat), which helps in lowering total cholesterol levels.
  3. Lower Blood Pressure: Low in salt and high in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins, almost every aspect of the Mediterranean diet can help reduce hypertension or high blood pressure.
  4. Increased Antioxidant Intake: Adding spices and herbs as a substitute for salt in recipes is a great way to start off your Mediterranean diet. They contain more disease-fighting antioxidants than many fruits and vegetables and can add some great flavor to your food.
  5. Improved Cognitive Function & Reduced Inflammation: Fatty fish play a big part in the Mediterranean diet and they contain several benefits. Herring, sardines and salmon (to name just a few) are very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower blood pressure, improve mood and provide a great boost to your metabolism as well.
  6. Lower Risk for Cancer and Other Chronic Diseases: Research continues around the connection between a Mediterranean diet and cancer prevention, but for now, it remains clear that the combination of inflammation-reducing Omega-3s and potent vital nutrients found in plant-based diets such as the Mediterranean diet play a core role in the healthy lifestyle needed to lower cancer risk.
  7. Lower Diabetes Risk: Maintaining a healthy weight with a lifestyle rooted in healthy diet and exercise is a powerful way to fight diabetes before it starts. The Mediterranean diet features virtually no processed food and a larger volume of raw foods and natural sugars. It also calls for increased used of spices such as cinnamon, which is considered one of the healthiest spices to add to foods because of its ability to help reduce the risk for diabetes by reducing blood sugar and blood fats.
  8. Lower Caloric Intake: The Mediterranean diet calls for increased consumption of fruits and veggies. Try replacing your daily dessert with a serving of fruit. Fruit contains less fat, less sugar, a lot of fiber and it helps reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes.
  9. Improved Red Blood Cell Formation: The Mediterranean diet calls for much less frequent consumption of red meat than most Americans are used to. Reducing the amount of red meat you consume to just a few times per month can help lower your risk for heart disease and cancer, among other diseases. Look for lean protein options like beans and poultry. Fresh fish and shellfish are great options too, as they’re packed with nutrients like B vitamins and they help the body’s metabolism and help in red blood cell formation.
  10. Improved Digestive System: Greek yogurt is a common part of the Mediterranean diet and as with most yogurts, Greek yogurt contains contain probiotics. Probiotics are living digestive bacteria that help your body maintain a healthy balance of microorganisms in the intestines and digestive system. Probiotics are the “good” bacteria and they can help take care of the “bad” bacteria. In recent studies, probiotics have been shown to treat diarrhea, fight irritable bowel syndrome, and prevent yeast infections, thus keeping our digestive tracts healthy.

These are just a few of the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. You can learn more about the foods that are part of the Mediterranean diet (and their benefits!) at our upcoming Reward Your Heart event. Join us for a day of healthy tasting and learning!

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