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.
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.