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9 Reasons You Should Start Having A Mediterranean Diet Now (With Recipe!)

9 Reasons You Should Start Having A Mediterranean Diet Now (With Recipe!)

Why is obesity a major health problem in America and other developed countries? Bad diets and worse eating habits is the answer. In the Mediterranean countries, mortality is lower and people lead healthier lives. This is simply because the Mediterranean diet they are following uses foods and cooking methods that are simply much more wholesome.

This diet is mainly based on plant-based foods so that legumes (peas, lentils and beans), fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts are the basis of the diet. Protein is supplied by fish and white meat. Red meat is eaten only a few times a month. Lots of emphasis on fresh food while processed food, ready made meals, and junk food are avoided like the plague.

Here are 9 reasons you should start adopting this diet now.

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1. Heart health will improve

Fish oils, olive oil, and some seed oils are widely used in this diet. These unsaturated oils are beneficial for the heart. You can get up to 40% of calories from these fats because they are healthy. Normally, you should only get about 30% of your calories from fat.

2. Weight can be easily controlled

This diet limits animal or saturated fats because very little meat is consumed. Trans fats (in margarine and shortening) found in hydrogenated oil are also rarely present. Limited amount of dairy products such as milk, cheese, or yogurt are consumed. Keeping these fats down helps in weight loss. But you also need to combine this with exercise, smaller portions (except for vegetables) and a desire to stick to it for six months to get long lasting results. Keep to low fat dairy when you can.

3. Reduce your risk of diabetes

Because there is lots of fiber in the diet (from the grains, nuts and vegetables), this helps to slow down digestion and stop blood sugar levels from spiking. That certainly will help to reduce your risk of getting diabetes. Go for nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and pistachios instead of a sweet pastry.

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4. Lower your risk of a stroke

You can have a stroke when a blood vessel bursts on its way to your brain. The best way of keeping these vessels healthy is to have plenty of antioxidants which you can get from fruit and vegetables which are plentiful in the Med Diet. One study showed that men with higher levels of lycopene (contained in tomatoes and other red fruit and veggies) were 55% less likely to have a stroke. As you know, tomatoes are everywhere in the Mediterranean diet. Add them to salads, pasta sauces and any snack you fancy.

5. Halve your risk of getting Parkinson’s disease

People who suffer form Parkinson’s disease (PD) find that their movement and coordination are severely affected. Researchers set out to find a possible link between diet and PD. One Japanese study found that those who had a diet based on plant foods, legumes, seaweed, fruit, and fish had a 50% lower risk of suffering from this disease than those whose diet had few or none of these elements. This diet is very similar to the Med Diet.

6. Less salt helps lower your blood pressure

You always find less salt in Mediterranean dishes. This is because herbs and spices are used to flavor food. That is much healthier than adding so much salt. In Tuscany in Italy, all the bread is unsalted. This was originally not for health reasons at all, but because salt was heavily taxed in the 12th century. The Tuscans saved money and were healthier too!

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7. Cut your cholesterol

Olive oil is used in everything in the Med Diet. You can have a snack with olive oil poured on a piece of bread. That is much healthier than butter. Olive oil has lots of unsaturated fat and this helps to keep low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol down. Always go for virgin or extra virgin oil because this simply means that processing has been kept to a minimum. Add it almost everything you eat and you cannot go wrong.

8. Less risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

Dr. Scarmeas of Columbia University has done some research on the connection between the Mediterranean Diet and Alzheimer’s disease. He and his researchers found that the diet played a role in helping to delay the onset of the disease. Always have fruit as a snack when you are hungry.

9. Reduce your cancer risks

Lots of studies have been done on the role of the Med Diet in helping to prevent cancer. One study showed that olive oil was instrumental in reducing breast cancer risk in women by 62%. Another study revealed that womb cancer in women was less prevalent in those who had followed this diet.

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One simple Med Diet recipe

meditteranean

    Here is a simple two step recipe for Mediterranean Potato Salad. This is a great way to substitute mayonnaise with much healthier red peppers, tomatoes, olives and some fresh herbs. All you have to do is to fry the vegetables in olive oil while you boil the potatoes. You can get the full list of ingredients and method here. Now, what could be simpler than that?

    Featured photo credit: Oldways Mediterranean Lunch/Meal Makeover Moms via flickr.com

    More by this author

    Robert Locke

    Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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    Last Updated on May 22, 2019

    10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

    10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

    There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

    One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

    In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

    Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

    1. Cat Camel Stretch

    Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

    Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

    Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

    Here’s a video to guide you through:

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    2. Go for a Walk or a Run

    This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

    Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

    The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

    Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

    Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

    3. Jumping Jacks

    Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

    Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

    4. Abductor Side Lifts

    Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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    Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

    5. Balancing Table Pose

    This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

    Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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      6. Leg Squats

      Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

      Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

      The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

      7. Push Ups

      You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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      An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

      Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

      This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

      8. Bicycle Crunches

      There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

      Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

      9. Lunges

      Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

      Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

      This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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      10. Bicep Curls

      You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

      Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

      Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

      Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

      Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

      These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

      You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

      Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

      More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

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