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    The Mediterranean Diet: Does it Unlock Longevity?

      |  Jul 05, 2023

    If you’ve ever tried to improve your health through food, you’ve probably heard of the Mediterranean diet. It’s decades old, doctor recommended, and relatively easy to adopt. At first glance, the diet seems healthy (and don’t worry, it is) but is it the key to unlocking a longer, healthier life? Let’s dive in.

    What is the Mediterranean diet?

    The Mediterranean diet stems from a study by American researcher Ancel Keys. The study, called the Seven Countries Study, began in the 1950s and looked at the correlation between diet and cardiovascular disease in countries around the world. Keys and his team found that eating patterns in Greece and Italy were correlated with lower rates of coronary heart disease when compared to their North American and Northern Europe counterparts.

    The key staples of the Mediterranean diet include plenty of whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains. For protein, followers of the Mediterranean diet eat fish and chicken (in moderate amounts) over red meat—although fish is preferred for its healthy doses of omega-3 fatty acids. In order to reduce the use of saturated fats, food is also cooked in extra virgin olive oil instead of butter. And just like in many other diets, sweets and alcohol should be consumed very little, but wine is okay in moderation with meals.

    What are the benefits of the Mediterranean diet?

    The Mediterranean diet limits saturated and trans fat, while promoting the consumption of the healthy fats our bodies need to function, like omega-3 fatty acids. It also favors food that’s high in antioxidants and fiber, which reduce inflammation in the body and fight cancer-causing free radicals.

    Nuts, a key staple of the diet, also have a myriad of health benefits. Nuts are high in antioxidants, unsaturated fats, dietary fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. In a recent study, participants who incorporated mixed nuts into their diet saw a 39% decrease in mortality risk compared to participants on a reduced fat diet. 

    How does it impact the aging process?

    Key’s original study linked the diet of the Italians and Greeks to lower rates of heart disease. Since the study’s findings were published nearly 60 years ago, scientists have further proved Key’s findings, and have even found that the Mediterranean diet is beneficial for a wide variety of health concerns.

    According to the Cleveland Clinic, the diet has been shown to lower the risks of cancer and cognitive decline, support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol, and promote the growth of good gut bacteria in your digestive system. Combined, these factors can both increase longevity and improve the quality of your life.

    How to incorporate the Mediterranean Diet into your lifestyle

    The key tenet of the Mediterranean diet is balance. While many modern diets might require you to cut out certain food groups entirely, the Mediterranean diet is relatively flexible and easy to adapt to many lifestyles and cultures.

    You might already be following the Mediterranean diet during your favorite meals. Dishes like salmon, rice, and broccoli, or a snack like a hard boiled egg and fruit are great examples of what the Mediterranean diet looks like in action. 

    Other ways to incorporate the diet are by cutting out red meat, serving fresh fruit instead of sweets for dessert, and finding ways to incorporate your favorite fish into your meals twice a week.