The Mediterranean diet has recently been named 2019’s best overall diet announced by U.S. News and World Report. The analysis of 41 eating plans also gave the Mediterranean diet the top spot in several subcategories: best diet for healthy eating, best plant-based diet, best diet for diabetes and easiest diet to follow.
Numerous studies over the years have consistently found that the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, dementia, memory loss, depression and breast cancer. In addition, the Mediterranean diet has been linked to stronger bones, a healthier heart and longer life.
So, what is the Mediterranean diet? It’s actually a rather simple diet featuring plant based cooking with the majority of each meal focused on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds, some nuts and an emphasis on extra virgin olive oil. Butter is seldom used and refined sugar and flour are consumed rarely, if at all. Fish is a very important part of the Mediterranean diet whereas meat is used more to flavor a dish rather than play a starring role. Eggs, dairy and poultry are used but less frequently.
Foods in the Mediterranean diet are very high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber which are key to the reduction of chronic disease. “Published studies show that no other food comes close to extra virgin olive oil for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease,” says Dr. Mary Flynn, PhD, RD, LDN, senior research dietitian and associate professor of medicine (clinical) at The Miriam Hospital and Brown University. With its makeup of rich polyphenols, antioxidants and monounsaturated fatty acids, extra virgin olive oil carries significant medicinal value as part of a plant based or Mediterranean style diet.
Like extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants. It has been credited with reducing cholesterol and regulating insulin levels. The Romans used vinegar as an antiseptic, using it to heal the wounds of soldiers. It has been recognized as a natural digestive aid, which many of us address through expensive probiotic dietary supplements for optimal gut health.
The Mediterranean diet is less a diet and more a lifestyle. It is conducive to eating with friends and family, spending time socializing over meals, mindfully eating your favorite foods and thus enjoying a healthy lifestyle. What a great way to begin a New Year!
Catherine and Dave Ferraresi established Gustare Oils & Vinegars with the dream of bringing the highest quality artisanal extra virgin olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and other regional gourmet food products to Cape Cod. The Italian word Gustare translates into English as, “to taste, to enjoy, to savor” and those sensations are a guarantee for guests as they discover their favorite selections in the European-style tasting room on Main Street Chatham.