What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The perfect Mediterranean vacation is not complete without freshly caught seafood, red wine, and a crunchy Greek salad drizzled with olive oil. Although indulgent, these foods are exceedingly healthy. People worldwide have taken to the coastal, laid-back dishes of Spain, Greece, Italy, and adjacent in a catchall nutrition plan dubbed the Mediterranean diet.
What to Eat for a Mediterranean Diet?
Twenty-three countries make up the Mediterranean region, each with varying climates, cultures, and, of course, cuisines. While the most popular dishes may differ slightly between France and Turkey, there is one element diets in this region have in common: whole foods. A Mediterranean diet includes ample fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes.
Seafood is also essential to Mediterranean diets, which tend to exclude red meat and dairy. Finally, make sure to include olives and extra-virgin olive oil wherever possible.
Health Benefits of Mediterranean Eating
The Seven Countries Study is a famous 50-year-long scientific study on different diets and their health effects. The massive research undertaking studied people from seven distinct regions around the world, what they ate, and how healthy they turned out to be 10, 25, and 50 years later.
This study found that people living in the Mediterranean tended to have better cardiovascular health in old age. Here are some additional health benefits of following a Mediterranean diet.
- Better Brain Function
Shellfish contain healthful Omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to protect brain and nervous system tissues. A Mediterranean diet with plenty of oysters, prawns, and mussels could help you get the DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) you need to keep your brain functioning at its best. Salmon, tuna, and other fatty fish also provide fatty acids that protect against Alzheimer’s Disease in later life.
- Lower Cholesterol
Eating Mediterranean means reducing red meat intake, which may lower cholesterol levels. It also helps you reach your daily fiber goals thanks to all the fruits, vegetables, and grains the diet contains. Soluble fiber reduces the amount of “bad cholesterol” or LDL your blood can absorb. Extra-virgin olive oil helps your body produce good cholesterol (HDL) for additional cardiovascular protection.
- Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
You won’t find ultra-processed foods like hot dogs and frozen waffles in the Mediterranean diet. Cutting these out leads to lower sugar and salt intake, which can help you maintain healthy blood pressure and blood glucose levels. The diet also leans away from dairy, which contains a sugar called lactose. Managing your blood sugar is essential to avoid further health complications.
Mediterranean Diets During Pregnancy
In December 2022, researchers from Johns Hopkins University published a study1 on the benefits of following a Mediterranean diet during pregnancy. The study found that women who followed the diet enjoyed a 21% lower risk of pregnancy complications.
A separate study2 from August 2023 found that following a Mediterranean diet during pregnancy can boost your baby’s brain development. First, researchers divided expectant participants into three groups: one that would follow the Mediterranean diet for 12 weeks of their pregnancy and two that would not.
The researchers returned two years after the participants gave birth to assess their children’s cognitive development. The study found that babies born to mothers who followed the Mediterranean diet during pregnancy had higher cognitive and social-emotional functioning.
Flavorings Fit for Mediterranean Eating
The Mediterranean diet is all about eating healthy, natural foods. While fresh produce and meat make up most of the menu, there are opportunities to incorporate some minimally processed foods, such as herb pastes and cold-pressed dressings.
Advanced Biotech offers a selection of USDA-certified organic flavorings suitable for healthy Mediterranean condiments. Please contact us for more information.