Over the past decade, we’ve been bombarded by a variety of health professionals, celebrity chefs and even social media influencers lauding the health benefits of a variety of diets.
There’s a good chance you’ve heard of the Atkins diet, the more recent paleo diet, the 5:2 diet, and now veganism. The reality is that there isn’t much science to back up any of these so-called ‘miracle’ diets and, in my view, the key aspect of any good diet is based around consuming two-to-three servings of fruit per day and three-to-five servings of vegetables per day.
A good diet also involves minimal processed food and avoiding what I call ‘white death’, which is sugar and processed carbohydrates such as white bread, rice, pasta and potatoes. I’m not suggesting we should never eat any of these foods, but simply minimise our intake.
Instead, a healthy diet should include fish, chicken, meat, nuts and dairy.
Interestingly, most of the scientific data showing enormous benefits for health are centred around the Mediterranean diet, which is basically following the eating patterns I just mentioned.
One of the key features of the Mediterranean diet is the use of extra virgin olive oil, which contains monounsaturated fats. These are classified as ‘good fats’ because they can help with weight loss, reduce the risk of heart disease and decrease inflammation.
Previous studies have also found that following a Mediterranean diet can also lower your risk of cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, one study published in the journal Ageing Cell found that the Mediterranean diet can boost brain health.
For the study, researchers gave mice the human dose equivalent of extra virgin olive oil found in a standard Mediterranean diet. When compared to the mice who were on a regular diet, there was 60 per cent less toxic waste in the mouse brain with much better performance on standard maze tests and other memory tests. There was also evidence of better nerve function.
As I previously stated, I believe the benefits of the Mediterranean diet are huge and that incorporating more extra virgin olive oil into your diet also equals big benefits. I’m not suggesting you should overdo it, but certainly using a moderate amount (one to two dessert spoonfuls per day) most days of the week is clearly beneficial for many aspects of good health.
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