Countless studies have conclusively demonstrated that a Mediterranean diet significantly lowers the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and many forms of dementia.
Nutrition scientists explain that the diet provides a very well-rounded mix of macronutrients, vitamins and minerals as well as a healthy dose of monounsaturated fats that help reduce levels of harmful inflammation and maintain systemic antioxidant status. In short, the meat-restricted Mediterranean diet lowers risk from chronic disease and slashes all-cause mortality with a healthful mix of fruits, vegetables, legumes and lean protein sources.
Spanish researchers from the University of Las Palmas have published the result of a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition that shows how the Mediterranean diet with healthy protein sources including fish, olive oil and nuts can improve mental and physical health, as well as overall quality of life. The lead study author, Dr. Patricia Henriquez-Sanchez commented “The progressive aging of the population in developed countries makes it even more interesting to find out those factors that can increase quality of life and the health of the population.”
Mediterranean diet improves physical and mental well-being to advance quality of life
Researchers designed their study to examine the effect of the Mediterranean diet on 11,000 university students over a period of four years. Dietary intake of the participants was recorded at the beginning of the study, and self-perceived quality of life was measured after the four year monitoring period. In order to determine whether the Mediterranean diet was followed, consumption of vegetables, pulses, fruit, nuts, cereals and fish was rated positively. Consumption of excess meat, dairy products and alcohol was negatively valued, as they do not adhere to Mediterranean dietary standards.
The study team determined that those who align closely with the Mediterranean diet score higher on the quality of life questionnaire in terms of physical and mental well-being. Dr. Henriquez-Sanchez concluded “the Mediterranean diet is an important factor associated with better quality of life and can be considered as a healthy food model.” The Mediterranean diet prescribes three basic elements: lean protein sources (fish, lean meat and eggs, preferably organically raised and harvested), fruit and vegetables and unprocessed monounsaturated fats such as olive oil. Furthermore, it must include a daily intake of 1.5 to 2 liters of fresh water.