Arguably the world’s healthiest diet, the Mediterranean diet is packed with health benefits such as weight loss and even heart disease prevention.
While focusing on eating healthy, natural foods, it limits its followers to healthy fats and processed/unhealthy foods. There have been many studies done on the Mediterranean diet, which highlight the risks and benefits the diet offers. This diet is based on the eating habits of Greece, Southern Italy and Crete, which have life expectancies of 81 years, 83 years and 82 years, of which the average is 82 years.The Mediterranean diet encourages its followers to eat plant-based food (vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc), eating grains, fish and poultry, using olive oil instead of butter, and to prevent eating and drinking “meats and sweets” such as processed foods, sugar sweetened drinks and refined oils. Drinking one glass of red wine per day is also an included but optional choice.The reason processed food/refined food and sweetened drinks are avoided is because when food is processed, take processing brown rice to turn it into white rice as an example, fibres and nutrients in the food are lost after processed. Fibres slow down sugar that is released into the bloodstream are taken away and the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in the brown rice are lost, and if sugar is not used for energy, insulin removes it from the bloodstream, and it’s converted to triglycerides in the liver, a type of fat.
These triglycerides are then stored into body fat. Continuing to consume large amounts of sugar daily over time can also cause diabetes.In order to remain healthy, the body needs five nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. The Mediterranean diet checks the box for all of these nutrients: it consists of poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt which are ate in moderate portions daily to weekly, seafood that is eaten at least two times per week, and fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices. Poultry, eggs cheese and yogurt provide the body with protein and a range of vitamins, fish is rich in protein, which is why it’s only eaten two times per week, legumes are protein sources that are low in fat and provide protein, vitamins and minerals, and come in small portions, which is why they’re used for snacking, nuts and seeds that come in small portions that are also used for snacking and provide vitamins and minerals, and herbs and spices that provide flavor and a range of vitamins and minerals. The limitations as for how long the user would have to wait until they could eat the certain type of food again makes this diet a balanced diet (fish is high in protein, and when consumed too much the protein turns into fat, which is why fish isn’t as moderately eaten as legumes and vegetables, etc).
Each nutrient included in the diet is incredibly essential. If a nutrient was removed from the diet, it would affect the body largely. For example, if protein was taken away from the diet, which is used for building tissues and muscles in the body, the body would start taking protein from the user’s muscles, which also puts their organs and bones at risk, since those also need protein to be built. This would also lead to the user having trouble getting motivation to do exercise, and even if they did exercise, there would be a great risk of exercise-related injuries, as well as slow wound healing because of lack of protein. On top of all of that, the Mediterranean diet also comes with numerous health benefits.As mentioned in the first paragraph, the Mediterranean diet aids weight loss. Weight loss is one of the main reasons people go on diets, and the main reason why the Mediterranean diet is effective in helping people lose weight is because it’s easier to follow compared to other more restrictive diets. This is due to the olive oil that is included in the diet, which studies have found make people feel fuller when it’s smelled or consumed), yogurt that burns food and curbs hunger, which a study done in Tennessee in 2005 found that people on diets who ate yogurt daily lost 61% more body fat and 22% more weight compared to those who cut calories from their diet and didn’t add calcium, and so on.
A review in 2013 found evidence that the Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of heart disease. This is due to the olive oil that is included in the diet, which contains fats that decrease levels of lipids that clog arteries in blood and reduce cholesterol levels in blood. Other studies have also shown that olive oil could be used to fight and prevent cancer and arthritis.An australian study found that the Mediterranean diet is actually effective with aiding those who suffer from depression. They did an experiment where they picked depressed patients and put them on a mediterranean diet, and after 4 months of being on the diet, researchers found that one third of the participants had a significant improvement in terms of mood and symptoms.Although the Mediterranean diet has quite a few health benefits, there are also (although few) disadvantages to this diet.
For example, the cost of being on this diet. Buying meals would be tricky because of the processed food, high salt and fat ridden meals restaurants have to offer, which leads to the user having to cook their own meals. The cost of the food in this diet is rather high, and the food items in the diet are based on the eating habits of Southern Italy, Greece and Spain, which aren’t very easy to obtain, and fruits and vegetables from the diet are only available during certain seasons.
Olive oil is expensive to buy due to the scarce amount of oil you can get from a single olive, and cheese (calcium) is rather expensive because of the amount of cheese you can get from the huge amounts of milk needed (6-10 pounds of milk per one pound of cheese) and in high demand as well. A few tree nuts species are rather high in price (macadamias cost quite a bit), and fish isn’t cheap unless the user buys fish that’s not fresh.All in all, the Mediterranean diet’s benefits obviously outweigh its disadvantages, and with its numerous health benefits that have been explained, it makes it a diet worth following.Citations”Disadvantages of the Mediterranean Diet.” India Parenting, www.indiaparenting.
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