Not only is the Mediterranean diet healthy but it's a great way to slim

GOOD FATS: Oily fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids which helps to protect the heart.

IT’S a well-known fact that eating a Mediterranean diet has numerous health benefits. But according to new research, it’s also more likely to help weight loss than a low-fat diet.

A study by the University of Barcelona revealed an unrestricted-calorie Mediterranean diet, high in olive oil, led to participants losing a small amount of weight over five years — an average of 0.88 kg (1.9 pounds), compared to people eating a similar diet rich in nuts, who lost 0.40 kg (0.88 pounds), and people on a low-fat diet, who were 0.60 kg (1.3 pounds) lighter.

It may only be a small amount of weight, but as it was lost on an unrestricted-calorie diet, the study suggests Mediterranean eating could be the best way to go — particularly when you consider the diet’s proven health benefits, including a reduced risk of developing heart disease, cancers and Type 2 diabetes, as well as improved brain power.

So how do you eat Mediterranean? 

While it’s a diet that’s generally rich in fresh fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, beans, fish and olive oil, here are some more specific tips:

Not only is the Mediterranean diet healthy but it's a great way to slim

Be healthy with your fat: Try to use olive oil for cooking and baking, instead of margarines and butter. 

Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, but polyunsaturated fats from nuts, seeds and oily fish are also included. A key of the Med diet is omega-3 fatty acids, in oily fish, flax seed, walnuts and pulses.

Not only is the Mediterranean diet healthy but it's a great way to slim

Eat your greens: Eat as many vegetables as possible, in a range of colours to maximise antioxidants and vitamins.

Not only is the Mediterranean diet healthy but it's a great way to slim

Reduce red meat: Cut down on red meat and consume protein from skinless chicken and turkey, fish, beans, nuts and other plants.

Not only is the Mediterranean diet healthy but it's a great way to slim

Go for grains: Make sure your bread, pasta, rice and grains are wholegrain. Try grains like oats, quinoa and barley.

Not only is the Mediterranean diet healthy but it's a great way to slim

Snack on seeds: Snack on seeds, nuts, whole fruits and unprocessed foods, instead of biscuits, cakes and crisps.

Not only is the Mediterranean diet healthy but it's a great way to slim

Keep booze intake low: Keep alcohol consumption low to moderate, and try to only drink with food.

Health benefits

A Mediterranean diet can cut the long-term risk of heart disease by half, research shows. 

A Greek study of more than 2,500 adults found those who closely followed a traditional Mediterranean diet were 47% less likely to develop heart disease than those who didn’t.

  • Research also suggests the Med diet can help reduce the chance of developing Type 2 diabetes.

  • It may protect against breast cancer.

  • Reduces the risk of womb cancer by more than half.

  • Helps reduce obesity and its complications, including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

  • Helps reduce brain shrinkage — a US study of 674 people with an average age of 80 showed that those following a Mediterranean-like diet had larger brains.

  • Can help preserve memory.

  • Reduced risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Reduced risk of depression.

  • Less inflammation, a risk factor for heart attack, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.

  • A 20% reduced risk of death at any age - due mainly to the decreased incidence of heart disease and cancer.

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