As well as being one of the most realistic and safest ways to lose weight, the Mediterranean diet can also help prevent serious diseases such as cancer and heart disease. In fact, the American Heart Association refers to the 'Mediterranean Diet' as the 'gold standard' in heart disease prevention and if followed could greatly reduce the numbers of cardiovascular disease sufferers which currently runs at over 72 million in America alone. Heart disease also causes almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe, and is reported to cost the EU economy an estimated $200 billion each year. Obesity is now recognised as a serious problem affecting many populations around the world.
In fact, the governments in Great Britain, Europe and the US have put it, and its associated conditions such as 'type 2 diabetes', at the top of their public health agendas. The news that obesity-related procedures have quadrupled since 2000 as well as recent stories such as the 34 stone teenage girl from Scotland who under-went radical stomach surgery have highlighted the gravity of the situation. The seriousness of this problem could be easily be lessened however if the public were to make a big effort to change their diets to a Mediterranean style of eating. It would not take long to start seeing noticeable differences.
If fully incorporated into our diets, the following five foods would make a staggering improvement to the health of our nation: 1. Olive oil. Ample medical research has shown that the benefits of olive oil may go way beyond its wonderful taste. A study by Greek scientists at the University of Athens found that this monounsaturated oil, which is rich in antioxidants, may be the key to the healthy Mediterranean diet meaning a lower risk of heart attacks, diabetes and colon cancers. 2.
Garlic. Used for centuries to ward off everything from vampires to evil spirits, garlic is high in vitamins C and B6 and it contains powerful anti-bacterial and anti-viral agents that help fight common colds and flu. Regular consumption of garlic is also believed to protect against cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
3. Oily fish Oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to be responsible for a range of health benefits, including protection against heart disease, stroke, arthritis and psoriasis. Studies have shown that fish is one of the world's healthiest foods.
Fatty fish such as salmon is packed with protein, niacin and Omega-3, an essential fatty acid that promotes healthy cardiovascular activity. Omega-3 may also protect against a host of health concerns from obesity to sunburns. A 2005 study published by the Archives of Neurology claims that eating fish once a week may even slow the rate of cognitive decline 4. Tomatoes. Fiber-rich tomatoes are low in calories and high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and cancer-preventing lycopene. Like olive oil, tomatoes are an important part of the Mediterranean diet.
Several studies have found tomatoes are also beneficial in fighting various forms of cancer. Fact: although often classified as vegetables, tomatoes are, technically, fruit. 5.
Oats. A steaming bowl of fresh cooked oatmeal is the perfect way to start off your day, especially if you are trying to prevent or are currently dealing with heart disease or diabetes. Oats, oat bran, and oatmeal contain a specific type of fiber known as beta-glucan. Since 1963, study after study has proven the beneficial effects of this special fiber on cholesterol levels.
Studies show that in individuals with high cholesterol (above 220 mg/dl), consuming just 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day (an amount found in one bowl of oatmeal) typically lowers total cholesterol by 8-23%.
Tim Godfrey is a leading expert on the Mediterranean Diet. Find out how you can lose weight and improve your health at http://www.mediterraneandietsecrets.com