The Mediterranean lifestyle is characterized by a diet high in plant-based foods and monounsaturated fats, with plenty of regular physical activity. Thus, perhaps it should come as no real surprise that residents of this region live comparatively long lives that are relatively free of many of the chronic diseases that plague Western society.
Scientists have been studying eating and lifestyle patterns characteristic of the Mediterranean region for more than 50 years, yielding some important take-aways for the rest of us!
According to cardiologist Arthur Agatston (and creator of the South Beach Diet), "A Mediterranean diet is high in fiber, which slows down digestion, preventing wild swings in blood sugar; reduces insulin resistance (a precursor of type 2 diabetes); and improves insulin sensitivity to reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes."
And studies have, indeed, found that individuals following a Mediterranean diet have a significantly lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and reduced mortality from heart disease and cancer.
Fortunately, it’s easy to incorporate elements of Mediterranean-style eating into your plant-based diet! While some elements need to be veganized (like meats and cheeses), many other area already vegan-friendly.
Staples like olives, olive oil, hummus, pita, chickpeas, and leafy greens are great to add to your diet or use as the base for delicious Mediterranean meals! For more tips on incorporating elements of Mediterranean-style eating into your diet, check out dietitian Ginny Messina’s piece on The Vegan Mediterranean Diet.
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