Beyond Weight Loss: 10 Ways the Mediterranean Diet Benefits Your Health

It’s often referred to as one of the world’s healthiest diets, and for good reason. Science has discovered the reason populations living in areas surrounding the Mediterranean have low rates of chronic disease -- it’s because of their diet.

The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, fish, and olive oil, with a moderate consumption of poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt. People who follow this eating plan very rarely eat red meat and consume almost no processed foods, added sugar, and sugary beverages.

You probably already know that this type of diet can help you lose weight. Our nutrition experts explain the many other ways the Mediterranean Diet benefits your health.

Health benefit #1 - Improves blood sugar

Diets high in plant foods are known to improve blood sugar, and the Mediterranean Diet is no exception. In fact, this eating pattern does such a good job of promoting healthy blood glucose that it can help people with diabetes better control their condition than a traditional low-fat diet.

Health benefit #2 – Improves fertility

For women undergoing in vitro fertilization treatment, following a Mediterranean Diet may increase the chances of getting pregnant. In a study conducted in Greece, women who adhered to a Mediterranean Diet for six months prior to undergoing IVF were more likely to have success than those who didn’t follow this type of plant-based diet.

Health benefit #3 - Promotes heart health

The Mediterranean Diet’s most notable benefit is its positive influence on heart health. It’s low saturated fat content, wide array of plant foods, and the absence of processed foods significantly reduces the risk that you’ll develop heart disease.

Health benefit #4 – Best for digestive health

There’s a direct link to digestive health and eating patterns like the Mediterranean Diet. The high-fiber content contributes to the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like acetate, propionate, and butyrate. These SCFAs play an important role in protecting your colon from disease by keeping inflammation in check and suppressing cancer development.

Health benefit #5 - Promotes longevity

Following a Mediterranean-style meal plan may help you live longer. This nutrient-dense diet protects your chromosomes from damage. DNA damage is at the heart of aging. Each strand of your DNA has a plastic-like cap called a telomere. Once this tip becomes damaged, the DNA strand becomes frayed, similar to what happens when the plastic tip of a shoelace is removed. Plant-based diets low in sugar, red meat, and processed foods protect telomeres from damage.

Health benefit #6 – Benefits mental health

Not only is the Mediterranean Diet good for your physical health, it’s also beneficial to your psychological and emotional well-being. Diets high in processed foods and added sugar contribute to chronic low-grade inflammation that can interfere with your body’s production of feel-good chemicals. Conversely, Mediterranean-style diets reduce inflammation and lower the risk of depression.

Health benefit #7 – Fights cancer

Cancer cells survive by evading programmed cell death, but clinical data reveals that a compound in the Mediterranean Diet neutralizes cancer cells ability to evade death. Plant foods contain a compound called apigenin, which research shows fights cancer by preventing cancer cells from surviving.

Health benefit #8 - Wards off Alzheimer’s

Higher intakes of nutrients like vitamin C, flavonoids, vitamin E, vitamin B-12, folate, and unsaturated fats protects the brain from decline. People who follow the Mediterranean Diet enjoy a lower risk of Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. Research suggests that adhering to a Mediterranean meal plan significantly lowers the chances that you’ll develop Alzheimer’s as your brain ages.

Health benefit #9 - Reduces risk of Parkinson’s disease

Findings confirm that adhering to a Mediterranean-style diet lowers the risk of Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement. The cause of Parkinson’s is still unknown. However, nutrients found in fruits and vegetables appear to play a role in protecting against the development of Parkinson’s disease.  

Health benefit #10 - Fights cognitive decline

The rich healthy fat content from fish and olive oil in the Mediterranean Diet not only protects your heart, it also protects your brain. Plant-based diets keep your brain healthy as you age by boosting and protecting cognitive performance. Following the Mediterranean Diet lowers the risk of dementia. In fact, populations around the Mediterranean, in places such as Greece, are among a handful of countries with the lowest rates of dementia.

At Marin Weight Loss & Wellness, our team of nutritionists provides effective approaches to weight loss, including helping patients adopt a healthy lifestyle and stick to a nutritious diet like a Mediterranean-style eating plan.

From customized diet plans to nutrition coaching, our team can help you reach your weight loss goals. For a consultation call one of our offices in Novato or Greenbrae, California, or book an appointment online.

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