The Mediterranean Diet: key benefits and what to eat

The benefits of following the Mediterranean Diet have long been lauded - and now there's a new reason for women who have gone through the menopause to pay attention.

New research suggests that the popular diet, where you mainly eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and olive oil, can be ‘useful’ when it comes to a common post-menopausal problem, namely reduced bone density – a key factor in the development of osteoporisis.

Presented at the Endocrine Society’s 100th annual meeting in Chicago, the study of 100 women with an average age of 55 reported both a higher bone mass and higher muscle mass in post-menopausal women who followed the Mediterranean Diet, compared to those who did not.

Women who have been through the menopause can suffer from a loss of bone mass, due to a decline in oestrogen and have a risk of developing osteoporosis. Lower muscle mass is also common in older people and can lead to an increase in illness and quality of life.

Dementia and the Mediterranean Diet

There’s more good news for anyone considering following the Mediterranean Diet, as a previous study also revealed that it can help to protect against the dementia and improve brain health.

Research conducted for the study from University of Edinburgh has said that there is mounting evidence that a diet rich in oily fish, fruit and vegetables, and nuts, could help you maintain memory as you age.

As we get older, our brains shrink by one or two percent each year, which results in a decreased ability to learn new things and retain memories. But it’s believed, from this research, that a Mediterranean Diet could help to slow down this process.

And that’s not all. A study funded by the World Cancer Research Fund, has also found that women who eat a mostly Mediterranean diet have a 40 per cent reduced risk of oestrogen-receptor negative breast cancer.

So what is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean Diet is said to be one of the world’s healthiest diets, and could even help with shifting stubborn pounds.

In their book The Greek Diet (a form of the Mediterranean Diet), Greek chef and restaurateur Maria Loi and Olympic-level athlete turned health journalist Sarah Toland propose a diet plan that’s both sustainable and gets results.

Inspired by the Ancient Greek civilisation who lived by the philosophy metron ariston (‘everything in moderation’), The Greek Diet advocates drinking wine and encourages you to add another few glugs of olive oil to your food.

The diet is organised into ‘Twelve Pillar Foods’. In each section, Maria and Sarah share their expertise on each food group; Maria tells her experiences of food during her childhood in Greece, and Sarah adds scientific explanations as to why these simple traditions of Greek village life will assist with weight loss.

Intrigued? Read on to find out how these twelve pillars could pave the way to better brain health and sustainable weight loss…

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