A Med diet could be best for our health

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The multiple benefits of a Mediterranean diet are well known but new research shows it may be the best way to keep trim.

It’s a well-known fact that eating an olive oil rich, Mediterranean diet can give your general health a real boost, but according to new research from a Spanish university, it is also more likely to help weight loss over a longer period of time than a low-fat diet.

The study, carried out by the University of Barcelona, revealed a Mediterranean diet of unrestricted-calories and high in olive oil, led to participants losing a small amount of weight over five years. People on this diet lost an average of 0.88 kg (1.9 pounds), compared to people eating a similar diet rich in nuts, who lost 0.40 kg (0.88 pounds), and people on a low-fat diet, who were 0.60 kg (1.3 pounds) lighter.

While it may only be a small amount of weight, the study suggests that losing it on an unrestricted-calorie diet, could mean Mediterranean eating is the best way to go. Added to this gradual weight loss is the diet’s proven health benefits, including a reduced risk of developing heart disease, some cancers and Type 2 diabetes, as well as having improved brain power.

Research has shown a Mediterranean diet can cut the long-term risk of heart disease by half. A Greek study of more than 2,500 adults found those who closely followed a traditional Mediterranean diet were 47 per cent less likely to develop heart disease than those who did not. The reduced risk may be linked to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

Less inflamation also reduces the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Research also suggests this type of diet can help reduce the chance of developing Type 2 diabetes as it promotes better control of blood glucose levels and can help lower obesity.

It may also be a factor in cancer prevention. It is thought to protect against breast cancer and reduces the risk of womb cancer by more than half. A decrease in these risk factors also means a 20 per cent reduction in the risk of death at any age.

Adding to its benefits, a US study of 674 people with an average age of 80 also found that those following a Mediterranean style diet had larger brains, suggesting the diet helps reduce brain shrinkage. This in turn can help preserve memory and thinking abilities.

The Mediterranean diet, rich in fresh fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, beans, fish and olive oil nutrients and minerals can help reduce the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. It is also reported to help reduce the risk of depression.

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