Mediterranean diet makes you live longer because it protects our DNA from damage – screamed last week’s news headlines.

Before we all go running off for a takeaway pizza or planning white pasta with traces of additive-preserved pesto for dinner based on this study in the British Medical Journal, let’s focus on what researchers really mean when they say Med diet.

We’re talking about a diverse diet based on olive oil, nuts and seeds, a rainbow of different coloured vegetables and fruit, wild meats and oily fish, and whole grains (eg brown rice, rustic style slow-fermented breads). Basically we’re talking about a diet of food which is unprocessed, rather than processed (eg takeaway pizzas made with white flour).

So if you’d like to start reaping the benefits of a Med diet right away here are three tips to start implementing, and enjoying, every day.

  • Use olive oil as the main oil in all your cooking. Look for the words “unfiltered” or “cold-pressed” for those least processed. Four tablespoons a day are needed for optimum heart health (Estruch, 2013).
  • Eat a handful of nuts every day. The Estruch study showed that 30g of walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts a day results in “a substantial reduction” in heart attacks (in a high risk group).
  • Load half of your plate with vegetables at every meal – and drizzle a little olive oil on to help absorption of vitamins. There are hundreds of plant chemicals with health benefits in every different colour in plants.

Posted by Jeannette Hyde, Nutritional Therapist at Evolved Clinic

References

Crous-Bou et al, (2014). Mediterranean diet and telomere length in Nurses’ Health Study: population based cohort study. British Medical Journal.

Estruch et al, (2013). Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean Diet. The New England Journal of Medicine.

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