May is Mediterranean Diet Month. The Mediterranean diet is one of the world’s most popular diets, consisting of plenty of vegetables and fruits, seafood and poultry, whole grains, olive oil, and other healthy food options. The diet discourages unhealthy fats and an excess of red meat. It is the product of different dietary traditions of the countries along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The month-long commemoration of Mediterranean eating also encourages daily exercise, sharing of meals with others, and an appreciation of the pleasures that may be derived from eating fresh, healthy foods.
A traditional Mediterranean diet has many health benefits, including protection against type-2 diabetes and prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Because the diet contains plenty of vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins, it is effective in reducing the risks of depression and anxiety. The Mediterranean diet is rich in nutrients that are important in the regulation of mood. Studies have shown that people who eat a diet that is based on vegetables and fruits are less prone to suffer from anxiety and depression than people who are used to a “Western” diet that is full of processed food. The fiber and probiotic content help in proper digestion of food and the production of neurotransmitters to keep us happy and calm.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in antioxidants that can prevent cell damage, especially in the brain. The diet has been linked to a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease, which is caused by cell damage due to oxidative stress.
One of the advantages of the Mediterranean diet is that it does not need to feel overly restrictive. You can still eat many different food items prepared in unique and appetizing ways. You will feel significantly less deprived than you would with other diets, and your physical and mental health will thrive.