As you make progress towards ditching the Standard American Diet and embrace a more healthful one like the Mediterranean diet, you will also reap numerous health benefits.  This is because you will be eating mainly plant-based foods that are rich in essential nutrients including fiber, antioxidants, and polyphenols with anti-inflammatory properties, as well as healthy fats.

The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet include:

Heart Health

Studies of people who follow the Mediterranean diet long term (over 5 years) have shown that it can reduce the chance of developing heart disease by 25% and that the risk of dying from a stroke is 30% less.  This is likely due to the reduced inflammation in the blood vessels from plant-based foods as well as lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels from healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish.  The Mediterranean diet also helps lower blood pressure and slows the progression of plaque buildup in the arteries.

Blood Sugar Control

The high fiber content of whole, plant-based foods means that they take longer to digest.  This keeps your blood sugar levels from spiking, thereby reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  The high fiber and slower digestion also help you feel full longer so that you can eat less and control your weight, also helping you to avoid diabetes.

Brain Health

The higher intake of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory foods has a positive effect on brain health and reduces your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  Researchers have found that the brains of people who regularly eat a Western (SAD) diet contain more of a protein called beta-amyloid, which is also found to be present in large quantities in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.  The beta-amyloid forms plaques which disrupt brain function, so the more it is present in your brain, the greater your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Gut Health

Your gut benefits tremendously from the high intake of fiber in the plant foods you eat on the Mediterranean diet.  Eating anti-inflammatory foods helps keep the lining of your gut healthy to prevent the leaking of toxins into your blood stream that can cause disease.  High fiber foods also feed the good bacteria in your gut so that they can proliferate and promote a healthy microbiome.  A healthy gut microbiome is directly connected to having a strong immune system.

Cancer Protection

Just as the Mediterranean diet helps prevent other chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, the anti-inflammatory antioxidants also help protect against a variety of cancers including breast, stomach, liver, prostate, head, and neck cancers.  Cancer prevention is also related to low or no consumption of red and processed meats which have been shown to increase the risk of developing the disease.

These are only some of the benefits you’ll gain from following a Mediterranean diet lifestyle.  What you’ll find is that your overall health will improve because you’ll be increasing your intake of nutrient-rich foods while reducing those that harm you.  It’s a win-win!

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