Past research shows a link between the Mediterranean diet and an extraordinary array of disease-prevention benefits. The latest studies reveal two more advantages to add to the list — fighting depression and breast cancer. It is becoming increasingly clear that this eating plan is a vital part of the formula for optimal health.
Consumption of plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and legumes are the primary part of the Mediterranean diet. It also involves eating fish, dairy products and poultry as well as substituting herbs and spices for salt.
Moderate Adherence to Mediterranean Diet May Make You Happier
The study published in BMC Medicine explored the impact of three different diets on mental health: the Mediterranean diet, the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 and the Pro-vegetarian Dietary Pattern. Evidence shows all three diets have health benefits, and they are rich in nutritious foods.
Researchers asked 15,000 participants to complete dietary questionnaires at the beginning of the study and every two years over a 10-year period. The data was compared with depression diagnoses.
After ruling out other factors that could influence mood, the Mediterranean diet and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 proved to have the greatest effect in reducing depression risk. Most of the positive effects of the latter diet could be attributed to its major components of the Mediterranean diet.
The good news of the study is that strict adherence to the diet isn’t required to receive the mental health boost. “The noticeable difference [in depression risk] occurs when participants start to follow a healthier diet,” says lead author Almudena Sanchez-Villegas. “Even a moderate adherence to these healthy dietary patterns was associated with an important reduction in the risk of developing depression. However, we saw no extra benefit when participants showed high or very high adherence to the diets.”
Mediterranean Diet May Cut Breast Cancer Risk by 68 Percent
In a Spanish study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, scientists asked 4,152 post-menopausal women who had never received a breast cancer diagnosis to follow one of three different diets. One was a Mediterranean diet plentiful in extra-virgin olive oil, anther was a Mediterranean diet rich in nuts, and a third was a diet that involved a lower fat intake.
Women in the extra-virgin olive oil diet had the lowest risk of developing breast cancer. They had a 68 percent decreased likelihood compared to women who were asked only to follow a diet with a reduced fat intake. In addition, a correlation was noted between the amount of olive oil consumed and the magnitude of risk reduction. “For every additional 5 percent of calories from extra-virgin olive oil, the risk was reduced [by] 28 percent,” said coauthor Dr. Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez.
The researchers weren’t sure if the benefit was due to olive oil alone or to a combination of the oil with other elements of the Mediterranean diet. Many of these foods have tumor-prevention properties, according to Gonzalez. Moreover, studies show extra-virgin olive oil, which is rich in vitamins, polyphenols and other natural antioxidants, has cancer-fighting effects.
Gonzales and Dr. Mitchel Katz, editor of JAMA, advise women to follow the Mediterranean diet plentiful in olive oil while avoiding soda, processed food and fast food. The suggested 68 percent risk reduction is significant, and you can’t go wrong with a diet associated with so many health advantages.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.