(BPT) – A healthy diet can be the foundation of a healthy life. While there are many food choices and diet options, one diet consistently grabs the attention of researchers.
“The Mediterranean diet has been, and continues to be, studied widely,” says physician assistant Tricia A. Howard, a faculty member at South University, Savannah’s College of Health Professions. “I would recommend considering the Mediterranean diet to anyone who wants to make a healthy lifestyle change.”
The Mediterranean diet is named after the geographical part of the world where most people consume plentiful amounts of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts and fish.
“This is a diet high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, which have many important health benefits,” explains Howard.
Some of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet can be seen quickly. Howard says many patients see improvement in cholesterol levels and begin to lose weight within a few months of adopting the diet. Numerous research studies show that the long-term benefits include a decreased risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.
But Howard cautions that the Mediterranean diet is not about quick fixes. Instead, it is a lifestyle change that you need to follow consistently for years in order to reap all the benefits.
“To get the many health benefits numerous researchers have found come with this diet, you must commit to it,” Howard explains. “Following this diet and benefiting from it is really about deciding that you are ready to take control of your health and about being willing to make substantial changes in how you eat and what you cook.
“A lot of wonderful foods are included in the Mediterranean diet,” says Howard. “But, red meat is not part of the diet, and that can make it tough for some people to strictly adhere to it.”
Howard says even if you can’t strictly follow the Mediterranean diet, everyone should try to incorporate as many aspects of it as they can into their daily diet.
“Substituting things in your diet that you know aren’t the healthiest choices and replacing them with foods found in the Mediterranean diet is a smart decision,” Howard says. “And, it may help you begin the process of moving away from an unhealthy diet and towards one that has been proven repeatedly to have benefits.
“Choosing foods from the Mediterranean diet is definitely a step in the right direction.”