The Mediterranean Diet: Is this the healthiest diet ever?

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We’ve all heard of the Mediterranean Diet – but what exactly is it and why could adopting it be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make?

What if there was a way of eating that was proven to be good for us no matter what our stage of life? Old or young, it would keep us healthier, lower our risk of heart disease, protect against some cancers and diabetes, boost brain power, help women through pregnancy and the menopause, promote better sleep and even slow the ageing process so we’d be less likely to become frail in later life.

Wouldn’t you want to know a lot more about it? Well, there is such a thing, it’s been around for centuries and has been studied since the 1960s. Known as the Mediterranean Diet, this is a traditional way of eating followed by the people of southern Italy, Greece and Spain.

It is a relatively simple, affordable and, most importantly, very delicious approach to better health and wellbeing. “In terms of the science and research, there is overwhelming support for the Mediterranean style of eating and living,” says Auckland nutritionist Jennifer Bowden, who is a big fan of this pathway to good health.

And unlike some modern eating plans, this isn’t a joyless regime of rigid rules and banned foods that will leave you feeling hungry and deprived. “The Mediterranean Diet is a loose one; you can choose the foods you like and tailor it to the way you enjoy eating,” explains Jennifer.

The long-lived people from these regions were eating a plant-based diet long before it became trendy. Fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds and legumes made up the bulk of their daily intake. Red meat was consumed in very sparse amounts – and when it did feature in dishes, it was often treated more as a flavouring than the main event. Chicken, fish and dairy were also eaten sparingly. And moderate amounts of red wine were enjoyed with meals.

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