However, recent research has shown that the Mediterranean way of life can also help you live longer.
110,799 people aged 45-70 from across England, Scotland and Wales took part in the UK Biobank study over the course of nine years, and adhered to lifestyle changes such as limiting salt and fizzy drinks, taking regular naps, spending quality social time with loved ones and friends and exercising regularly.
The team of researchers found that the people who followed a Mediterranean lifestyle were 29% less likely to die compared to those who didn’t.
“The Mediterranean diet is my favourite diet to recommend due to all the health benefits that are backed by research,” says Dr Tim Tiutan, in a video he shared on the topic.
“It lowers the risk for different cancers such as breast, lung, colon, and prostate cancer due to natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. It also lowers the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even depression and anxiety,” he shares.
How to follow the Mediterranean Diet at home
Make sure 95% of your food is plant-based
“Limit animal protein in your diet to no more than one small serving per day,” says Dan Buettner, who discovered the world’s five ‘Blue Zones’ - areas where people most live to over 100. He’s a huge proponent of eating the Mediterranean way.
“Favour beans, greens, yams and sweet potatoes, fruits, nuts, and seeds. While people in four of the five blue zones consume meat, they do so sparingly, using it as a celebratory food, a small side, or a way to flavour dishes,” he explains.
Cook yourself healthy
The Mediterranean Diet focuses on fresh, seasonal produce and less processed convenience foods that pack in a lot additives, sugars and excess salt. Try to cook more from scratch so you know exactly what’s going into your food — and you can always cook more of it so that you have lots of portions for quick lunches and dinners.
Enjoy less, but better, alcohol
There’s something so romantic and evocative about the thought of enjoying a couple of glasses of wine al fresco like the French and Italians do, rather than guzzling down half a bottle of vodka on a night out like we do here in the UK. Okay, the weather’s not quite as amazing, but red wine has been proven to be healthy for our heart and contains lots of beneficial antioxidants. Just stick to two or three glasses a week than every night.
Load your plate with healthy fats
Avo toast fans can rejoice, as the Med diet focuses a lot on healthy fats such as avocado, nuts and seeds, and extra virgin olive oil. It doesn’t need to be expensive — a bottle of extra virgin olive oil is just a couple of pound at Aldi, and you can get avocados in most supermarkets these days, too. Even better if they have a yellow sticker.
Those steps might sound like a lot, but if you implement one or two at a time, you’ll start to see benefits all round. And who can say no to living longer?