Have you heard of the Mediterranean eating pattern and wondered if it actually lives up to the hype? Well, researchers, doctors and dietitians talk it up as one of the healthiest, and most sustainable eating patterns in the world. Plus, US News & Health has ranked it #1 for the past 6 years in a row.
Let’s dive into the top 5 reasons you should give the Mediterranean eating pattern a try!
#1. Protects Your Heart – A ton of research has been done on the Med pattern and heart health. And study after study continues to back up the facts, the foods of the Med pattern help to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. With heart disease the #1 killer in the United States, I’d say this is a good reason to give the Mediterranean eating pattern a go!
#2. Fights Inflammation – Inflammation seems to be a buzz word these days so I’ll break it down a bit. Inflammation is our body’s immune system response to injury or infection. Our immune system sends out white blood cells to surround the area to help with healing. Chronic inflammation is the big problem. Chronic inflammation is when the body continues to send out inflammatory cells even when there is no danger. For example, in rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory cells attack joints leading to an inflammation. Thus, chronic inflammation is associated with certain diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Arthritis, certain Cancers, Asthma, Alzheimer’s Disease and Heart Disease.
The foods in the Mediterranean eating pattern are Anti-inflammatory, meaning they fight this inflammation. The antioxidants in these foods fight free radicals by donating an electron and making them stable.
So, what does all this science mean for you? Reducing inflammation with anti-inflammatory foods is beneficial to all cells in the body.
#3. Boosts Your Brain – This might be THE most exciting aspect of the Mediterranean eating pattern. “Higher adherence to a MedDiet is associated with slower rates of cognitive decline, reduce conversion to Alzheimer’s disease, and improvements in cognitive function.” 1
What does that mean? Well, eating the Med way is protective to our brain as we age, and can reduce our risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, and that is awesome.
#4. Good for Your Gut – Our digestive system has trillions of bacteria living inside, both good bacteria and bad bacteria. These bacteria are called our gut-microbiome and lots of research has shown the link between our gut health and our overall health. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and healthy fats increases the good bacteria in our digestive system.
On the other hand, foods that increase the bad bacteria in our gut include highly processed foods, fast foods, refined sugar foods, lots of red meat.
The variety and fiber in the Mediterranean pattern increase the good bacteria in our gut, which helps to boost our overall health.
#5. It’s Easy & Delicious – The best part of this eating pattern is that it is NOT a diet. Let me repeat that, it is NOT a diet. It is a style of eating with lots of flexibility. You will eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, healthy fats, fish, herbs and spices. You CAN eat bread and have dessert, it is all about choosing a variety of whole foods. Plus, its so delicious. Black bean salad with avocado citrus dressing, zucchini pasta, chocolate dipped fruit, all these foods fit!
- Hardman RJ, Kennedy G, Macpherson H, Scholey AB, Pipingas A. Adherence to a Mediterranean-Style Diet and Effects
on Cognition in Adults: A Qualitative Evaluation and Systematic Review of Longitudinal and Prospective Trials. Front Nutr. 2016;3. doi:10.3389/fnut.2016.00022
- Nani A, Murtaza B, Sayed Khan A, Khan NA, Hichami A. Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Potential of Polyphenols Contained in Mediterranean Diet in Obesity: Molecular Mechanisms. Molecules. 2021;26(4):985. doi:10.3390/molecules26040985
- Woodside J, Young IS, McKinley MC. Culturally adapting the Mediterranean Diet pattern – a way of promoting more ‘sustainable’ dietary change? Br J Nutr. 2022;128(4):693-703. doi:10.1017/S0007114522001945
- Merra G, Noce A, Marrone G, et al. Influence of Mediterranean Diet on Human Gut Microbiota. Nutrients. 2020;13(1):7. doi:10.3390/nu13010007
- Rosato V, Temple NJ, La Vecchia C, Castellan G, Tavani A, Guercio V. Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Eur J Nutr. 2019;58(1):173-191. doi:10.1007/s00394-017-1582-0
- Pollicino F, Veronese N, Dominguez LJ, Barbagallo M. Mediterranean diet and mitochondria: New findings. Experimental Gerontology. 2023;176:112165. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2023.112165
- Caso F, Navarini L, Carubbi F, et al. Mediterranean diet and Psoriatic Arthritis activity: a multicenter cross-sectional study. Rheumatol Int. 2020;40(6):951-958. doi:10.1007/s00296-019-04458-7
- Ballarini T, Melo Van Lent D, Brunner J, et al. Mediterranean Diet, Alzheimer Disease Biomarkers, and Brain Atrophy in Old Age. Neurology. 2021;96(24):e2920-e2932. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000012067
- Martínez-González MA, Gea A, Ruiz-Canela M. The Mediterranean Diet and Cardiovascular Health: A Critical Review. Circ Res. 2019;124(5):779-798. doi:10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.118.313348
- UEG Week: Plant-based foods and Mediterranean diet associated with healthy gut microbiome, research reveals. Accessed August 23, 2023. https://ueg.eu/a/30