Countless studies show the longevity benefits of following a Mediterranean diet.
Dr. Simon Paul, GP and author of The Real Mediterranean Diet, revealed that there are 4 “superstar” ingredients found in the Mediterranean diet that may be responsible for this effect.
Ball reported that a recent comprehensive review of the Mediterranean diet from Harvard University described its benefits not only in preventing heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer, but also found associations with reduced mortality and increased longevity.
“Of course, there are many foods in this traditional, colorful and delicious vegetarian diet that contribute to its health benefits, including many vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and seafood, as well as herbs and spices,” Simon explained.
However, there are many individual components synonymous with the Mediterranean diet that stand out as “nutrition stars,” and may particularly contribute to their effects, noted Dr. Paul.
Here are the top 4 ingredients:
Extra virgin olive oil
Paul explained, “Extra virgin olive oil is the main source of healthy monounsaturated fat in the Mediterranean diet and a great source of vitamin E.”
However, he explained, it is the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds called polyphenols that are most important to health.
“High-quality virgin olive oils, which have a touch of bitterness and a spicy flavour, are known to be rich in polyphenols,” Paul explained.
He continued, “Mediterranean people always prepare their meals with extra virgin olive oil, and the polyphenol blend of the oil and colorful vegetables cooked together has the most powerful anti-inflammatory benefits.”
Dr. Ball said: “There is a great deal of wisdom in the old adage ‘all vegetables’, and there are many examples of these fiber-rich plants. Lettuce, spinach, chard, kale and ‘wild greens’ gathered from the steep hills of the Mediterranean islands, All vegetables are rich in vitamins A, K, and C, minerals such as iron, magnesium and calcium, as well as many antioxidant polyphenols.
Paul reports that one of the many studies showing the benefits of the Mediterranean diet was the initial study that showed a reduction in heart disease, strokes, and overall mortality by up to thirty percent.
One group in the study appeared to gain additional benefits from a palm-sized daily serving of unsalted nuts — about 30 grams of hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds.
“Not only do nuts contain a lot of fiber, but they can also be a great source of healthy fats including omega-3, omega-6 and polyunsaturated fats as well as vitamins, minerals and anti-inflammatory polyphenols,” Paul added.
“Beans are an excellent source of protein, with fiber, B vitamins, minerals and antioxidants,” Paul noted.
He also explained that beans are great for our gut microbiome and also for our environment as a sustainable source of protein. Some researchers believe it makes an important contribution to longevity in the village tribes of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, as well as on the Greek islands in the Mediterranean.