Is the Mediterranean Diet Good for Seniors? Here’s What Studies ShowDecember 15, 2022
The benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been studied for years, but is it suited for seniors? Reports like those published by the National Library of Medicine have deemed it one of the “healthiest dietary patterns in the world due to its relation with a low morbidity and mortality for some chronic diseases.”
If you’re interested in revamping your diet, here’s what you should know about the Mediterranean diet.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is well-known for its emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, olive oil and other plant-based foods. It also includes lean proteins like fish and poultry, low amounts of dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, and occasional treats like red wine in moderation.
Other components of the Mediterranean diet include herbs and spices like garlic, rosemary, and oregano; legumes such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas; eggs; and fruits like apples, oranges, grapes, figs, and melon.
Additionally, it is important to note that the Mediterranean diet also focuses on mindful eating habits by encouraging people to savor meals while socializing. This type of diet encourages a healthy lifestyle and has been associated with numerous health benefits.
Some key foods that are found in the Mediterranean diet include:
- Fruits and vegetables: Tomatoes, oranges, apples, figs, eggplants, peppers, cucumbers, onions, garlic, olives, and leafy greens.
- Whole grains: Rice, couscous, quinoa, barley, and oats.
- Legumes: Chickpeas, beans, lentils, split peas, and fava beans.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
- Fish and seafood: Salmon, sardines, anchovies, mussels, and tuna.
- Dairy products: Yogurt, feta cheese, goat cheese, ricotta cheese.
- Healthy fats: Olive oil and avocado.
- Herbs and spices: Parsley, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, sage.
- Beverages: Water and red wine.
- Sweets and treats: Dark chocolate, honey, dates, dried fruits like figs and apricots.
By incorporating these foods into your meals you can adopt the Mediterranean diet and reap the many health benefits associated with it.
7 benefits of the Mediterranean diet
Overall, the Mediterranean diet focuses on consuming whole foods and avoiding processed or fried foods. These aspects of the diet make it an excellent choice for those looking to achieve a healthier lifestyle.
- 1. Better for your liver
Western diets, especially those that contain high amounts of processed foods, are hard on the liver. According to a study published in The American Journal of Pathology, a Western diet, which is “high in fat and sugar,” is linked to chronic liver inflammation. On the other hand, the Mediterranean diet is easier to digest and less unhealthy for the liver.
- 2. Improved cognitive health
Some studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet is linked to improved cognitive function and lowers the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s. In the case of Alzheimer’s, studies have looked at how the diet protects brain cells from the buildup of amyloid deposits. However, it’s important to note that not all studies have shown similar trends.
Whether the Mediterranean diet could play a role in dementia prevention is still up in the air. However, this way of eating does lead to lower cholesterol, which has been linked to an increased risk of cognitive issues.
- 3. Reduced risk of heart disease
Not only does the Mediterranean diet positively affect cholesterol levels, but it also impacts blood pressure. It’s believed that the regular consumption of olive oil, which contains alpha-linolenic acid, is the driving force behind the reduced risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
- 4. Lowers cancer risk
Two primary nutrients in the Mediterranean diet are believed to be key in cancer prevention: antioxidants and polyphenols. Those who consume fish also have the added benefit of increasing their omega-3 fatty acid consumption. If cancer prevention is your goal, be mindful of the types and quantities of fish that you eat. Cold-water fish like salmon, sardines, and herring are some of the best fish to consume.
- 5. Promotes weight loss
Obesity has been linked to multiple health issues. If you want to live longer and feel better, staying at a healthy weight is essential. Seniors tend to lose weight and keep it off while eating a Mediterranean diet because the meals they consume are high in healthy carbohydrates and protein. Both these nutrients are essential for keeping you full between meals while minimizing excess snacking.
- 6. Balanced blood sugar levels
As you age, your risk for diabetes increases. In addition to containing alpha-linolenic acid, which protects against heart disease, olive oil also contains phytochemicals that reduce inflammation and lower insulin resistance.
- 7. Improved sleep
Quality sleep plays a massive role in health and aging. Everyone should get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. However, sleep patterns get disrupted as you age, and more people have trouble sleeping. One way to improve sleep quality and efficiency is to eat a diet high in fiber, like the Mediterranean diet.
In conclusion, there are numerous reasons to take up the Mediterranean diet. Not only does it offer a wide variety of health benefits, it also encourages mindful eating habits that can benefit your overall well-being. If you’re looking to improve your health and reduce your risk of chronic diseases, the Mediterranean diet is a great choice.
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