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The Mediterranean diet, centered around fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts, legumes, and whole grains, is good for everything from your brain to your bones. Learn the benefits of the Mediterranean diet—and how to use it to reduce the risk of cognitive decline, heart disease, depression, and even cancer.
Below, we offer more details on the potential health advantages of the Mediterranean diet eating plan.
MEDITERRANEAN DIET BASICS
A Mediterranean-style eating plan focuses on this small group of staple foods:
- Healthy fats (especially olive oil)
- Nuts and seeds
- Unrefined whole grains
Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet: How It Helps
Consistently following a Mediterranean-style diet can:
- Preserve memory and prevent cognitive decline.Full of healthy fats for the brain, the Mediterranean diet can be good for boosting brain power and preventing dementia and cognitive decline.
- Reduce your risk for heart disease.Studies show that following a Mediterranean diet can greatly reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction (heart attack), and stroke.
This is likely due to the Mediterranean diet’s positive effects on cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol.
- Strengthen bones.The Mediterranean diet can play a role in the prevention of osteoporosis and/or hip fracture. One study found that premenopausal women following the diet had much better bone mass.
- Manage diabetes and control blood sugar.The Mediterranean diet may also benefit people with diabetes and might be able to prevent type 2 diabetes, help improve blood sugar control, and cardiovascular risk in those who already have it.
- Fight depression.People who follow the Mediterranean diet may be protected against depression, too. Studies have found that those who follow the Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts may not experience a depressive relapse at as high as a rate of those who don’t follow the diet.
- Protect against cancer.Higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet may help fight off cancer. The diet is composed of foods that have high protective nutrients able to prevent several diseases, included cancers.
SOURCES & RESOURCES
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Originally published in 2016, this post is regularly updated.