For Your Best Health, the Mediterranean Diet Ranks #1
Healthiest Way to Eat
With new diet trends constantly popping up, finding the healthiest way to eat may seem like an elusive hunt. However, the latest diet fad might not be worth the effort: the recently released 2019 rankings by the U.S. News & World Report state that the top diet to improve overall health and protect against chronic diseases is the ever-enduring Mediterranean diet.
Taking the top spot out of the 41 different diet trends studied, the Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional eating patterns of populations living around the Mediterranean Sea, such as southern Europe and northern Africa. Interest in the diet piqued when researchers noticed that people in these areas tended to enjoy longer, healthier lives. The 2019 rankings also praise the Mediterranean diet for being “eminently sensible” and not overly restrictive or gimmicky.
Although these regions maintain distinct cuisines, they tend to have a few dietary habits in common, such as centering their diets on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts. Red meat is eaten sparingly—no more than a few times per month—and fish and poultry are cooked up just a couple times a week. Olive oil is used instead of butter, and herbs and spices are favored over salt. Beyond what’s on the plate, the Mediterranean diet also emphasizes eating meals slowly and mindfully with family and friends.
Helps with blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
Although no diet can guarantee a disease-free life, the Mediterranean diet is a good one to bet on. Studies have shown that following this diet can help preserve heart health by incorporating healthy fats, limiting sodium intake, and going easy on red meat—three things that promote healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It’s no surprise that people following the Mediterranean diet have lower rates of heart disease and strokes.
The Mediterranean diet can also help manage and shield against type 2 diabetes. All those beans, veggies, and whole grains construct a diet that’s loaded with fiber, which can help steady blood sugar levels. The Mediterranean diet is also considered an anti-inflammatory diet, thanks to its low quantities of sugar, red meat, and refined carbohydrates. Curtailing the amount of chronic inflammation in the body may ward off type 2 diabetes.
Another important perk of the Mediterranean diet is its knack for protecting against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The diet helps improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels, which are two big risk factors for dementia. Notably, having a stroke significantly increases the risk of vascular dementia; since the Mediterranean diet helps prevent strokes, it can help protect against this type of dementia.
The Mediterranean diet can even deliver benefits if adopted temporarily. One 2019 study from researchers at Saint Louis University noted that athletes who followed the Mediterranean diet for just four days had better athletic performance than after four days on a standard Western diet. Instead of “carbing up” on spaghetti before a race, a Mediterranean meal might be the way to go.
Overall, the Mediterranean diet has also been shown to help you live a longer, healthier life. By reducing your risk of heart disease and even some types of cancer, the Mediterranean diet can cut your risk of early death by 20 percent at any age. Plus, the diet is packed with nutrients to beef up your agility and ensure a well-functioning body, even in your golden years.
Fad diets come and go, but the Mediterranean diet has clinched positive reviews by dietitians and doctors for decades. Instead of bouncing from crash diet to pricey meal plans to intense calorie counting, you might find solace and success in the long-beloved Mediterranean diet.