Started 6 years ago by Oldways and the Mediterranean Foods Alliance, the Mediterranean Diet Month is an international campaign that promotes the foods and health benefits associated with a Mediterranean lifestyle. Known for being rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes and fish, with little red meat and with most fat being monounsaturated from olive oil and nuts, this diet also encompass a vibrant way of living. Cooking at home, enjoying family meals and being active are part of the Mediterranean lifestyle.
The Med diet is today practiced in many parts of the world. But, it’s not followed in all Mediterranean countries. For example, in some parts of France, Spain and Italy there is a high consumption of saturated fat (from butter, cheeses and cold meats). Unfortunately, modern lifestyles made the Western diet become more common in many Mediterranean regions. We all globally face the challenges of reducing the consumption of highly processed foods and maximize the intake of plant foods. That´s why dietary guidelines in most countries would agree with many aspects of the Med diet. The Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) identified the Mediterranean diet as one that Americans can follow to improve their health.
So, what are the proven benefits of the Mediterranean diet? Because it´s a dietary pattern rich in antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats, it is believed that may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, Parkinson´s disease. More specifically:
- Cardiovascular health. The Spanish study PREDIMED concludes that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events. The results of this study are vastly present on the DGAC.
- Alzheimer prevention. It has been shown that normal individuals showing lower adherence to the Med diet had cortical thinning in the same brain regions as clinical Alzheimer disease patients. These data indicate that the Med diet may have a protective effect against brain tissue loss.
- Keeping you agile. A Spanish prospective cohort study with 1815 community-dwelling individuals concluded that an increased adherence to the Med diet was associated with decreasing risk of frailty and muscle weakness
- Increased life expectancy. As cancer and heart disease are reduced by a Med dietary pattern, there is a 20% reduced risk of death at any age.
Come on and join all the food and nutrition experts that this May will demonstrate that tasty and healthy Mediterranean-inspired meals can be enjoyed anywhere and all year long. Find resources at Oldways website and Spanish resources at Fundación Dieta Mediterranea.
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