Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet
By Will Hewlett (Food blogger and commis chef at The Boathouse)
Can you believe it? The curtain’s only just risen on 2019 and the January blues band is already in full swing. As the new year fires up, I’m still clinging to the Christmas season. My January routine goes something like this – I stare into my empty fridge a couple of times a day, wondering what happened to the turkey, cheeses, mince pies and chipotle sausages. It seems like just yesterday I couldn’t shut the fridge door properly because of the lorry-load of food that was crammed in there. Sure, it may seem like a mystery, but let’s be honest here. It wouldn’t take Columbo to figure out where all that food went!
The New Year is a time where many see fit to make changes to their lifestyle. If, like me, you are searching for a way to re-adjust your eating habits after some Christmas feasting, the thought of wading through diet plans may seem a little intimidating. However, the team here at The Boathouse Upton may have a solution for those January blues! Why not consider a Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet’s positive impact on health is well documented across the internet, so I won’t rattle on for too long about it here. If this blog entry attracts you to the idea of a Mediterranean diet, I’ll throw in a few useful links at the end that you can explore at your leisure. For now, I’ll just gloss over a few reasons why many people are taking to these lifestyle habits.
Many people promote the Mediterranean diet for the simple reason that there is no real Mediterranean diet. Rather than forcing you to stick to a rigorous day-by-day plan, the diet operates from a food pyramid with basic ingredients that can be adjusted to suit you and your palate. Here is a list of these components, provided by the BBC Good Food website:
* Fruit and vegetables
* Wholegrain food variants (including pasta, bread and brown rice)
* White meats
* Dairy (in small amounts to be enjoyed once or twice weekly)
The Mediterranean food pyramid limits red meats, sugary and processed foods to special occasions only. This allows for potentially harmful saturated and trans-fats to be substituted with healthy fats such as mono-unsaturated fat (found in olive oil) and poly-unsaturated fats (found in assorted nuts, seeds and oily fish).
The Mediterranean diet’s fresh, non-processed components bring with them a variety of proven health benefits for both body and mind. In 2008, the NHS reported that diets rich in fresh fruits, vegetables and fish offer protection against conditions such as heart disease, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. These findings were the result of several studies conducted by Dr Francesco Sofi and the University of Florence, examining over 1.5 million subjects worldwide. The Health website reported a separate study, finding that women who followed a Mediterranean diet were 25% less likely to develop heart disease.
These health benefits are partially down to the diet’s inclusion of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to help moderate blood pressure and prevent blood clots. However, I would regret not mentioning the importance of olive oil in a Mediterranean diet! Antioxidants contained within olive oil have been known to prevent mental decline, and its anti-inflammatory effects are thought to help fight oxidative damage linked to ageing. The University Health News website reported that those who followed a similar diet had a 40% reduced risk of cognitive impairment, and suggested that
compounds found in olive oil may even help to preserve bone density.
Although many health outlets praise olive oil for its benefits, the Dr Axe website suggests that those looking to pursue a Mediterranean diet should seek out ‘extra virgin’ olive oil in shops. This is due to some olive oil products being harvested in such a way that removes many of their nutrients. The article’s author Jillian Levy also suggests that a person should consume one-to-four tablespoons of olive oil a day within the diet in order to fully experience its benefits.
Well, adopting a Mediterranean diet certainly seems fruitful. It’s a relaxed diet plan that inspires creativity whilst promoting good health, and the benefits don’t stop there! According to the Harvard Health Publishing blog, getting into the Mediterranean diet later in life isn’t a problem. The blog reported a 2013 study, showing that middle-aged women who adopted the diet were 40% more likely to reach later life without severe health issues. I’d like to point out that the blog’s author, Heidi Godman, includes a number of useful DIY tips for those looking to ease themselves into the diet.
If you think that adopting a Mediterranean diet seems like an appealing way to improve your 2019, or even if you’d like a taster before you dive in, then we at The Boathouse Upton invite you to take a look at our extensive tapas menu. Our menu is heavily inspired by the Mediterranean diet and can be found on our website. In many Mediterranean countries, it’s common for meals to be enjoyed with family, friends and a glass of red wine. That being said, why not call in to our restaurant with some good company and experience a slice of the Mediterranean diet for yourself?
Below are some of the links I used whilst researching for this blog. Happy eating, and I hope you have a great 2019!
* Why are Mediterranean Diets So Healthy? by Victoria Taylor – BBC Good Food
* Benefits of Mediterranean Diet – NHS
* 7 Health Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet – Health
* 6 Major Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet – University Health News * 9 Major Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet (+ the Retracted Study Controversy) by Jillian Levy – Dr Axe * Adopt a Mediterranean Diet Now for Better Health Later by Heidi Godman – Harvard Health Publishing