Think Mediterranean for a Longer, Healthier Life
October 08, 2019
What could be healthier than a Mediterranean diet? It’s mostly plants – vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, legumes, whole grains and seeds and olive oil. Eating a Mediterranean diet in midlife gives 34 to 46 percent greater odds of aging without any physical or mental diseases. Breast cancer risk is 40 percent lower, heart disease risk is 33 percent lower and it helps depression 32 percent of the time. People who follow this diet have less age-related brain shrinkage.
Researchers say there’s something even healthier than a Mediterranean diet: a Mediterranean lifestyle. The people of small Greek and Italian villages turn every meal into an excuse to enjoy friends and family. They are free of chronic stress. They get fresh air and exercise by doing leisurely social activities like walking and bicycling.
Dr. Ancel Keys, father of the Mediterranean diet, studied Pioppi, Italy, where life expectancy averages 90. He attributed it to a joyous lifestyle as well as diet. He moved there with his wife, Margaret. He lived to be nearly 101, and Margaret lived to be 97.
10 Steps Toward the Mediterranean Diet
- Eat lots of vegetables. Add them to all your recipes.
- Change how you think about meat. Limit meat to 3-4 ounces.
- Enjoy some dairy products. Eat plain yogurt, smaller amounts of cheeses.
- Eat seafood twice a week. Try tuna, herring, salmon and sardines and shellfish.
- Cook vegetarian at least once a week. Build meals around beans, whole grains and vegetables.
- Eat healthy fats. Nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, olives, avocados; cook with extra-virgin olive oil.
- Switch to whole grains. Swap refined breads/pastas for traditional grains.
- Eat fresh fruit for dessert. Save sweets for special treats.
- Drink lots of water. Lighter urine means more hydration.
- Just one glass. One glass of wine a day for women, two for men.