Combine all the good things from the Mediterranean and add in some olive oil and red wine.
Combine all the good things from the Mediterranean and add in some olive oil and red wine.

WELLBEING: Eat like a Greek goddess for better health

GREEK goddesses, Italian princes and Spanish kings have known this secret to healthy living for centuries.

Olive oil, a glass or two of red wine, lots of fruit and vegetables which are rich in antioxidants, legumes, nuts, not a lot of red meat and plenty of fish are the answer.

No, it's not a new fad, but it is about eating well, using fresh food easily sourced and lightly cooked.

The Mediterranean healthy eating plan, which medical research group the Mayo Clinic promotes, recommends these simple changes to your eating habits:

  • Eat primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts.
  • Go nuts by keeping almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts at hand.
  • Replace butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil and canola oil.
  • Choose low-fat dairy by switching to skim milk, fat-free yoghurt and low-fat cheese.
  • Use herbs and spices instead of salt to flavour foods.
  • Limit red meat to no more than a few times a month.
  • Eat fish and lean poultry at least twice a week.
  • Enjoy meals with family and friends.
  • Drink red wine in moderation, which is an optional choice.
  • Get plenty of exercise.

In its purest form, the Mediterranean foods eating plan promotes the use of foods which have for a long time characterised the traditional meals from countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.

Researchers say this style of eating has many advantages, including reducing the risk of heart disease.

"The diet has been associated with a lower level of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol - the "bad" cholesterol that's more likely to build up deposits in your arteries," the Mayo Clinic report states.

"The Mediterranean Diet is also associated with a reduced incidence of cancer, and Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.

"Women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts may have a reduced risk of breast cancer."

It has also been found to possibly slow down brain shrinkage, particularly in people aged 70-years-old and above.

Again and again, reports are published reinforcing the message that eating like the people of the Mediterranean can help you live a healthier, longer life.

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