The Mediterranean Diet: the ultimate anti-aging regime

Fo Puglia.BDoesn’t it seem as though, on a regular basis, one food or another is given star status as THE one that’s the key to longevity?

Well forget it folks.

No one food can provide a complete arsenal of weaponry to defend against illness and death. A dietary pattern, though, is a different story. And none illustrates this concept better than the Mediterranean Diet.

The Mediterranean diet continues to strike gold.  Last week’s study showed a 30 per cent decrease in heart attacks, stroke or death in subjects at a high risk for heart disease who ate a Mediterranean diet compared to those who were prescribed a low-fat  regime but ended up consuming  a more typical Western diet.

The protective dietary pattern was not a weight loss regime: it included either four tablespoons of extra virgin olive or nuts each day. The investigation points to the wisdom of selecting healthy fats.

While certain aspects of the diet are frequently highlighted, it’s the combinations of whole foods that experts on the subject refer to – not single foods or nutrients.

The foods act synergistically – meaning the combinations  offer more benefit than if each item is consumed on its own. For example, scientists at Israel’s Technion University compared the antioxidant effects of tomato extract, garlic, basil and extra virgin olive oil. When they were combined, there was a more potent impact than each individually. And just think of the palate-pleasing effects of the entire combination.

Scientific evidence keeps accumulating linking it to a bounty of health perks of this food style including the much sought after aspiration – longevity.  But it’s healthy longevity, not just living longer, that goes hand in hand with the Mediterranean diet.  If you’re not healthy, life may just seem longer.

Living well not just longer is a goal worth striving for.

The overwhelming research linking the Mediterranean Diet to good health includes protection against a variety of  other diseases as well including  certain cancers, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

While the traditional local fare varies as you travel around the Mediterranean – whether it’s cumin and cinnamon-scented couscous from Morocco or a robust garlic and tomato-sauced polenta from Italy – the basic fundamentals   remain the same:

•    An abundance of fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs

•    Whole grains, legumes,  nuts and seeds

•    Small servings of meat and other foods high in saturated fat

•    Moderate consumption of wine

•    Regular physical activity

•    Olive oil as the predominate fat

One key factor, a major one indeed, is just how palatable the eating pattern is. It’s one that makes healthy eating one of life’s pleasures. It’s also a food style that is livable – unlike many restrictive diets.

Tomorrow I will have some tips on bringing the Mediterranean diet to your kitchen.

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Are you a fan of the Mediterranean diet? What are your favourite combos or dishes? Please share in the comment section below.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Research Roundup, Whole Foods

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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One Comment on “The Mediterranean Diet: the ultimate anti-aging regime”

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