More than likely you've heard of the Mediterranean diet by now, but what exactly is it all about? Is it really the best way to eat? And perhaps the most important question of all, can it really prevent cancer?
In a world where there's no shortage of fad diets and acronym-laden eating plans, the Mediterranean diet has captured the attention of dieters, nutritionists, and medical professionals alike due to its many well-documented health benefits. In fact, researchers are now discovering that eating a Mediterranean diet--i.e., a diet that mainly consists of fish, legumes, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and a healthy dose of olive oil--can actually help your body fend off heart disease, diabetes, and memory loss, and can even help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
Below are some key facts and insights regarding the Mediterranean diet to help you learn more about the many health benefits of this unique and quite flavorful eating plan.
But Wait: Isn't a Mediterranean Diet All About Pasta and Bread?
When many of us hear the phrase "Mediterranean diet," we instantly think of pasta or bread, but this isn't entirely accurate. In fact, the typical Mediterranean meal features pasta only as a small side dish (only about 1/2 cup to 1 cup in size), but hardly ever as the main event. The primary components of an authentic Mediterranean diet are actually far less carb-heavy, and typically include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, hearty grains, fish, legumes, seeds, nuts, and generous quantities of olive oil.
The Mediterranean diet also includes moderate amounts of red wine, which features powerful bioflavonoids that can reduce your risk of heart disease. Bear in mind, however, that if you choose to drink red wine, stick to only one glass (two at the most) per day; anything more than that will be overdoing it, and can actually have the opposite effect on your heart health.
Can the Mediterranean Diet Prevent Cancer?
Quite a bit of research has been published supporting the idea that the Mediterranean diet can be instrumental in preventing certain types of cancers from forming. For example, a five-year study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association tracked the results of a group of women who consumed a Mediterranean diet supplemented by four tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil every day. The study found that the women who adhered to the Mediterranean diet reduced their risk of developing breast cancer by 68 percent versus a second group that followed a low-fat diet instead.
Another study published by the National Institutes of Health revealed a beneficial link between following a Mediterranean diet and a reduced risk of colorectal cancer. The rich nutrients found in many of the foods that comprise the Mediterranean diet act as powerful antioxidants that can protect your cells from free radical damage, a leading contributor to the development of cancerous cells.
The Mediterranean diet is definitely generating a lot of buzz, and based on the evidence that continues to mount, there are several major health benefits you can derive from following this model of eating. Consider modifying your eating habits to conform to the Mediterranean diet, as it can contribute to better health and a greater overall quality of life.