5 reasons to embrace the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet had us at “olive oil” and “wine,” but in case you needed more reasons to love it, it also comes with a plethora of health benefits. To celebrate Mediterranean Diet Month, Dr. John Pierce, a specialist in age management at Ageless Forever, shared some of the diet’s advantages.

“The diet places an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes that are typically found in the Mediterranean region,” Dr. Pierce said. “Limiting red meat and dairy consumption, as well as cutting back on salt and sugar intake, is proven to thwart chronic diseases associated with poor diet choices.”

Below are Dr. Pierce’s five reasons to fill your plate with Mediterranean food:

1. Heart healthy

Filled with fats like those in olive oil and dishes that include poultry and omega-3 laden fishes, the inclusion of heart-healthy fats (while limiting saturated and other unhealthy fats) helps lower the risk of heart disease, as well as moderate blood pressure.

2. Cancer prevention

Known cancer-fighting foods, such as cruciferous vegetables (think broccoli and spinach) and legumes (lentils, chickpeas and beans, to name a few), are packed with antioxidants and are classic options on the Mediterranean menu. Opting for produce-rich meals has plenty of preventive properties while packing a healthful punch.

3. Boosts testosterone

Healthy fats in the diet do more than just help your heart. Dr. Pierce cited new research showing that men who consume more omega-3s have increased testosterone, while foods like leafy greens positively impact the prostate. “Low testosterone levels are usually just one piece of the healthy living puzzle,” Dr. Pierce added. “Eating clean and making healthy diet choices will naturally improve the body’s level of functioning.”

4. Weight loss

The Mediterranean diet isn’t so much a “diet” as it is a lifestyle. Simply choosing the foods that are consistent with the Mediterranean food pyramid are bound to be beneficial for your waistline. “Typical Mediterranean diet meals have inherently healthy ingredients, such as vegetables and whole grains,” Dr. Pierce said. “Part of the obesity epidemic stems from consuming processed meals over fresh foods.”

5. Reduces chronic diseases

Diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease are just a few of the chronic conditions that decrease statistically when compared to a population that does not stick to a Mediterranean diet. The plant-based food plan — with a breakdown of 50% produce, 25% protein and 25% whole grain — offers a balanced approach that goes along with what dieticians have recommended all along.