Interest in the Mediterranean diet has grown rapidly especially with regard to reducing mortality, chronic disease and improving vitality.
A Mediterranean diet is generally full of fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, grains, olive oil, fish, and usually low in red meat and dairy products. It has been shown to benefit the secretion of anti-inflammatory cytokines, antioxidant availability and the prevention of atherosclerosis.
The polyphenols found in plant-derived foods including berries, cocoa, tea and fresh vegetables have been shown to have protective effects on the body. Mediterranean foods and beverages can contain high concentrations of flavonoids phenolic compounds which could reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk by improving inflammation modulation, smooth muscle function and lowering the risk of blood clots.
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
EVOO has been shown to reduce the development of CVD by:
- improving endothelial (inner lining of blood vessels) function which can prevent coronary artery disease and atherosclerotic diseases
- preventing oxidation of low density lipoproteins (LDL) – bad cholesterol
- lowering blood pressure
- improving glycemic control (Reference 1)
- reducing inflammation
EVOO is a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids which have been shown to assist in fat oxidation regulation, energy metabolism, weight maintenance, cholesterol metabolism and appetite sensations. Research has also shown EVOO to be involved in the prevention of certain cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity (Reference 2).
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)
PUFAs, especially omega-3 and omega-6 have recognised anti-inflammatory properties. Research studies have found a correlation between omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and a reduction in chronic illnesses including obesity, cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes (Reference 3). An increase in PUFA intake has been associated with reductions in diastolic blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.
Which foods contain these wonderful nutrients?
- Monounsaturated fatty acids are contained in nuts such as almonds, cashews, pecans and macadamias, avocados, olive oil, olives and peanut oil.
- To increase your consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids, include more soybeans, walnuts, salmon, canola oil, sardines, chia seeds, mackerel and flaxseeds.
- Flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, hempseed oil, hempseeds, grapeseed oil, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts and pistachios are all great sources of Omega-6 fatty acids.
Including plenty of EVOO and PUFAs into your diet can have a massive benefit on your digestion, risk of CVD and inflammation. If you would like to learn more about these foods and how to incorporate them into your diet, book in for a Free Pre-Consultation.