If you haven't heard, Spain is projected to beat out Japan for the longest life expectancy in the world by 2040. That's according to an extensive study by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (check out all the details in this article by The Guardian!) In just 20 years, Spanish people will live an average of 85 years, with much of that long life attributed to the Mediterranean diet.
Diets come and go, but there is always a trendy, new diet that one of your friends is interested in. Some people rely on a diet to lose weight and others follow a diet simply because they want to have a healthier lifestyle. However, there are so many diets that it is difficult to choose one, and it's particularly hard to find a diet that is well-balanced and healthy. In this regard, the Mediterranean diet, typical of Spain and other countries like Italy, Greece and France, is a safe bet. In fact, nutritional experts from around the world have analysed its characteristics and have described it as one of the healthiest and most beneficial diets that exist. Read further to find out which foods make up the Mediterranean diet.
The five main foods in the Mediterranean Diet
This is the basis of the Mediterranean diet and the main source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which are very beneficial, as they help to keep the arteries clean and prevent the accumulation of plaque deposits. In fact, olive oil is a healthy fat which helps to reduce blood pressure, reduces cholesterol levels in the blood, and lowers the risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
Fruit and vegetables
If anything characterises the Mediterranean diet it is the regular consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables, which are very advantageous because they contain high levels of vitamins and minerals. They are also an excellent source of water, which helps us to stay hydrated, and are rich in fibre, which regulates intestinal transit and prevents a variety of gastrointestinal conditions. Some fruit and vegetables, such as tomatoes and blueberries, are rich in antioxidants and prevent the development of diseases such as cancer.
Bread, cereals and rice
Cereals and cereal products are another fundamental component of the Mediterranean diet. Whenever you choose complex carbohydrates (rye, oats, etc.) and their whole grain versions, they provide an excellent source of energy to meet your daily demands. Also, in addition to those already mentioned, cereals such as wheat, barley and maize are rich in vitamin B and folic acid, which are essential for the correct functioning of the nervous system. They also contain minerals like phosphorus and iron, which are difficult to source in other foods.
The Mediterranean diet contains not only milk but also yoghurt and cheese. The yoghurt provides enzymes that are beneficial to the bacterial flora in our body and help to correct metabolic function. Meanwhile, cheese contains proteins of high biological value and minerals, which help to prevent the de-mineralization of our teeth and bones.
In general, fish plays an important part in the Mediterranean diet, but oily fish in particular should be eaten at least twice a week. Oily fish is an excellent source of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which help blood flow and prevent the development of cardiac diseases. It is also rich in Vitamins A and E, which have an antioxidant action and prevent degenerative diseases. They also have an anti-inflammatory action and protect the thyroid.
So there you have it! If you want to live to 85, the Mediterranean diet could play a part in getting you to that old age. There are other factors as well (like lifestyle, smoking habits, and genetic factors), but if you pay attention to your health as well as your diet, you'll have a long, happy, and healthy life.