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Benefits of the Mediterranean diet

· nutrition,eat,health

I am sure, by now you have heard about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. I have to declare my bias here, as I was raised on the traditional Greek diet and subsequently, I raised my daughters on the same diet.

So, I am really pleased that the research as far back as the 1960s, has demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet is not only palatable but also nutritious with many health benefits.

The other important factor that needs to be highlighted is that the Mediterranean lifestyle incorporates the Mediterranean diet, by eating local, seasonal, fresh, home cooked food as well as being physically active, afternoon siestas, enjoying meals with family and friends and having close community ties.

The foods that are typically consumed in the Mediterranean diet are:

vegetables (especially greens, like spinach and non-starchy vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, cauliflower, artichokes, tomatoes etc.), legumes (especially lentils, chickpeas and beans), fruits (local and seasonal), whole grains, nuts and seeds, fresh locally caught fish, olive oil, olives and dairy products from goat’s milk (like feta cheese and yoghurt) with small amounts of red meat, poultry, and red wine.

As a result of eating the Mediterranean diet the types of nutrients consumed include: antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fat, fibre and a range of plant phytochemicals such as flavonoids, sterols and carotenoids. All of which have multiple health benefits.

The Seven Country Study revealed that the inhabitants of the island of Crete in Greece, had the lowest rate of death due to heart disease. Many studies have substantiated the benefits of the traditional Mediterranean diet for the protection against many chronic diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer) and for contributing to longevity.

The Mediterranean diet is also associated with improved cognitive function, and reduced incidence of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

The reason I am highlighting the Mediterranean diet is due to the fact that it has many healthful benefits in terms of brain health, emotional health and physical health. This is very important for all of us, but more so for children and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD.

The Raine Study, which was conducted in Western Australian, clearly identified that takeaway foods, processed meats, high-fat dairy products and soft drinks, were associated with an ADHD diagnosis. The ‘healthy’ dietary patterns that were not associated with ADHD, included high intakes of vegetables, legumes, fruit, whole grains and fish. These ‘healthy’ dietary patterns from the Raine Study have similarities with the traditional Mediterranean diet.

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