For decades, the traditional Mediterranean diet has been praised for being the healthiest in the world and evidence continues to mount that it can help reduce the risk of conditions as varied as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia and even infertility. The research has now reached Everest proportions and covers a wide variety of health problems, but some of the key benefits are in the following areas.
Heart health – numerous studies link a Mediterranean diet to reduced risk of heart disease. A 20133 study of almost 7500 men and women at risk of heart disease found that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts reduced the risk of heart disease and stroke by 30 per cent. Type 2 diabetes – A 2014 review4 of available research found the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was reduced by 23 per cent by sticking to a Mediterranean diet.
Dementia – numerous studies suggest that a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of dementia. A 2015 review5 of available research found that it was a ‘potential strategy’ in reducing cognitive decline among the elderly.
Chronic disease – a 2003 study6 looked at the diets of more than 22 000 people in Greece over four years. It found that the closer people followed a traditional Mediterranean diet, the less likely they were to die from either heart disease or cancer. Overall, people following the Mediterranean diet most closely were 25 per cent less likely to die during the study period than those who were not.