A life that is long and free of disease and suffering is what we all want. But with the stresses inherent in modern living and the obscene levels of processed food consumption these days, it seems that this is more of ideal rather than the norm. In the Mediterranean, however, people have long been enjoying higher life expectancy rates and excellent overall health. This is mainly attributed to their diet that is commonly composed of plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes. Fish rather than red meat is preferred with moderate amounts of red wine taken at every meal. Greek cuisine also has a high fat content, but since it comes mainly from olive oils, it’s a monounsaturated fatty acid that is good for heart health. As a result, the benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been well-documented

One of the most important benefits of this diet, as has been mentioned countless times, lies in the area of cardiac health. Mediterranean populations, it was found, have consistently lower levels of heart disease compared to the rest of the Western world, most notably Americans. A 1995 study placed recent heart attack sufferers on the Mediterranean diet for two years. They had significantly lesser rates (about 70% less) of heart attacks. Their blood pressure, triglyceride, cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels had stabilized to the point that most on the study were actually living longer lives. This is not surprising considering the fact that the Mediterranean diet is rich in mono unsaturated fatty acids that have been proven to lower risks associated with cardiac problems. Besides, any diet high in fish also protects the heart with its omega-3 content. Closely related to the prevention of heart disease is diabetes prevention. Those who follow the Mediterranean meal plan lower their risk of developing type II diabetes due to the anti-inflammatory action of the healthy fats that figure heavily in the diet.

Another immense benefit of Mediterranean diet is cancer prevention. In Greece and its surrounding areas, the Big C is not widespread. This does not come as a surprise considering the high amounts of fruits and vegetables that they consumed on a regular basis. It is a known fact that these are rich in antioxidants that fight free-radical damage in the body that is often the leading cause of cell mutation that results in cancer. Another important feature of the Mediterranean diet is its heavy use of olive oil-- a mono unsaturated oil. Polyunsaturated oils like corn oil, meanwhile, have been associated with increased tumor formation. Finally, the benefits of a Mediterranean diet also go beyond the physical. In a study done three years ago, the high intake of fruits, nuts and legumes are instrumental in reducing the risk of depression. Going Mediterranean also prevents your chances of developing Alzheimer's and Parkinson's later in life.

The benefits of a Mediterranean diet span both the physical and mental aspects of health and wellness. Even minor dietary modifications to include the more important aspects of the Mediterranean diet (e.g. using olive oil in recipes) can have substantial benefits.

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Author's Bio: 

Proud mother of 2 lovely girls, world traveler, and natural health advocate.