The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are evident from both a medical and holistic perspective. While weight loss is not the primary intent of this diet, it’s an inherent effect from eating more plant-based foods while curbing sugar and red meat. Additionally, the high-fiber content of many whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes found in the Mediterranean diet will help you feel fuller for longer, and reduce the chance of overeating. You’ll also pick up additional perks such as better digestive health and effective weight management. A Mediterranean diet can also be beneficial to those with type-2 diabetes by helping to lower blood glucose levels while promoting good HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Lastly, studies have also shown a link between the Mediterranean diet and long-term brain health. These health perks, combined with increased exercise and leisure-time, help earn the Mediterranean diet its reputation as a well rounded, logical, and realistic way to live.
You still have to cap alcohol. The hallmark of a Mediterranean diet is that drinking red wine socially is thought to be one reason why the diet is so healthy. But women should still stick to one glass, and men two glasses. If you have a history of breast cancer in the family, know that any alcohol consumption raises that risk. (31) In that case, talk to your doctor to find out what’s right for you.
In Britain and the US, people consume on average around 1 litre of olive oil per person per year, but isn’t much compared to the Greeks, Italians and Spanish who all consume more 13 litres per person. Olive oil, with its high calories and mixed saturated and unsaturated fats, was once assumed by many doctors to be dreadfully unhealthy. But health surveys of European populations kept finding that southern Europeans lived longer and had less heart disease despite higher fat intakes. It turns out olive oil was the likely reason.
Extremely quick weight loss is possible, but it’s rarely healthy and almost never permanent. The Weight-Control Information Network website warns that losing more than 3 pounds per week is too fast. Losing weight quickly by following a fad diet may get you into that wedding dress, but the extra pounds will most likely be waiting for you when the honeymoon’s over. Thus, you can go on a fad olive oil diet, or you can incorporate heart-healthy olive oil into a nutritious diet and drop five pounds that are much more likely to stay gone. Consult your doctor before beginning any new diet.
Research suggests that the benefits of following a Mediterranean-style eating pattern may be many: improved weight loss, better control of blood glucose (sugar) levels and reduced risk of depression, to name a few. Eating like a Mediterranean has also been associated with reduced levels of inflammation, a risk factor for heart attack, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
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And monounsaturated fat isn't the only thing olive oil has going for it nutritionally. Some olive oils come with phytonutrients that may offer their own disease protection benefits (still, it's not clear whether most of us can take in enough of these phytonutrients without going overboard on olive oil, says Joyce Nettleton, DSc, RD, researcher and editor of the PUFA Newsletter).