The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is famous as a benchmark of healthy eating, but what makes it special?

Diet feature

No other diet holds a candle to the Mediterranean Diet regarding scale, breadth, quality of clinical trials, and scientific literature backing it up. Over the years, studies involving thousands of people have shown consistent benefits for cardiovascular health, heart attack and stroke risk, healthy body weight, diabetes and blood sugar management, and more.


Good Quality Proteins

This diet is based on the culinary traditions of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea like Greece, Italy, and Spain. Access to fresh coastal seafood comes with the territory. The addition of chicken, eggs, and minimal amounts of red meats makes the backbone of this diet high-quality animal proteins from land and sea.

Proteins are typically the focal point of the meal, a grounding element critical for repairing and maintaining the healthy tissues and structures of the body. Amino acids, found in protein, provide the building blocks for healthy immune function and neurotransmission.


An Excellent Balance of Fats

The Mediterranean Diet is naturally rich in powerful omega 3 foods like fatty fish. It also features high-quality omega 6 fats in the form of nuts and seeds. Eaten together in relative proportion, omega 3s and 6s regulate inflammatory responses in the body. They support the natural rise and fall of the inflammatory response, warding off chronic inflammation. Nuts and seeds are also unmatched as sources of critical minerals like zinc, magnesium, calcium and selenium.

The category of fats known as monounsaturates deserves a special mention. Sources of monounsaturated fat include avocados, nuts and olives, with olive oil acting as the crown jewel of this diet. This antioxidant powerhouse has been studied extensively: a 2011 meta-analysis of 13800 patients concluded decisively that olive oil consumption can single-handedly reduce cancer risk. Another large-scale meta-analysis from 2014 showed considerable reductions in strokes and cardiac events and all-cause mortality just from eating olive oil. Suffice to say that olive oil isn't just delicious.


A Rainbow of Plants

The Mediterranean diet might not traditionally be vegetarian, but it emphasizes eating an abundance of plants. Heaps of fresh fruits and vegetables form this diet's refreshing, hydrating, and nutrient-dense backdrop. Starchy veg like potatoes, legumes and whole grains provide fibre, B vitamins, and quick-burning fuel for our cells. These plant-based carbohydrates also provide plenty of prebiotic fibre to foster a healthy microbiome. Think of these plants as multivitamins that operate on a level of cooperative chemistry that is much more sophisticated than any supplement. The diverse kaleidoscope of fresh greens, reds, purples and yellows ensures a broad spectrum of nutrient synergy. These nutrients protect and enhance cellular function and encourage healthy gene expression, keeping us vibrant and lively well into old age.


Positive Food Culture

We've discussed how the Mediterranean diet is all about colourful, plant-based, and whole foods, but this diet is also about a lifestyle. It celebrates social meal culture and the magic of eating together. The beauty of the Mediterranean diet is that nothing is strictly prohibited. Food is part of life, and life is not about rules. Life is meant to be savoured and enjoyed, just like what's on your plate.

An important caveat is that everyone is different. Even a modified version of the diet might not be ideal for some individuals or health conditions. But while it’s true that there is no one-size-fits-all food solution for everyone, the Mediterranean way of eating can be an excellent starting reference point.

Damien ZielinskiA cloud-based functional medicine practitioner with a focus on mental health and insomnia
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