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The Mediterranean diet is largely regarded as the healthiest in the world and it includes staple dishes from European countries such as Greece, France, Italy and Spain. Enjoying a Mediterranean diet can have a range of definitions, but it largely involves emulating the eating habits of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.

These countries are renowned for having healthy eating habits and they tend to emphasize meals based on beans and lentils as a main source of protein and mostly stick with plants and wholegrains.

This delicious diet is heart-healthy and has a range of other health benefits that include:

  • Reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease by half
  • Reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Increased longevity
  • Protects against type 2 diabetes
  • Keeps you agile
  • Prevents heart attacks and strokes

A typical Mediterranean diet is quite rich and oily and includes high volumes of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids help keep you in the best physical condition possible and they can only be obtained through diet or supplements.

There is a lot of emphasis placed on freshly gathered ingredients within this diet, it does not include any preservatives. The Mediterranean diet is sustainable and has a positive effect on the environment, so it’s viewed as beneficial now more than ever.

There are some simple ways to make your daily diet more Mediterranean, such as:

  • Don’t skip breakfast
  • Eat seafood twice a week
  • Limit dairy consumption
  • Eat a vegetarian meal at least once a week
  • Eat fresh fruit for dessert
  • Have one glass of wine a day (two for men)
  • Favouring herbs and spices instead of salt to flavour your food
  • Sitting down to dinner with your friends or family
  • Only enjoying small portions of organic grass-fed red meat a few times, a month
  • Taking regular exercise
  • Using healthy fats such as olive or canola oil over butter
  • Enjoying fish and poultry at least twice a week
  • Mostly eating plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and wholegrains

There are some misconceptions surrounding the Mediterranean diet, for instance, while red wine does have health benefits it should only be consumed in moderation. One glass a day for women and two for men is the recommended daily intake, exceeding this can be bad for your heart.

Pasta and bread should also not be consumed in bulk, in this diet pasta is usually treated a side dish. More emphasis is made on salad, vegetables, fish or a small portion of organic grass-fed meat and maybe one slice of bread as a main in a dish.

While the Mediterranean diet is primarily based on food, lifestyle also plays a very large role. Meal time is treated as an event, something to be shared and savoured. Dinner is not consumed in front of the television or eaten in any kind of rush; meals are leisurely paced and eaten in this relaxed manner with other people. This lifestyle element might be as beneficial for your health as the food itself.

Combine Mediterranean eating habits with lots of physical exercise and you have the basis for a very healthy lifestyle overall. This diet is heavily focussed on the sharing and consumption of food so try and view each main meal as an opportunity to connect with family and friends.