Over the years, a mounting body of evidence has indicated that consuming plenty of plant-based foods and monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, while limiting your intake of animal fat (all of which Greeks and southern Italians do), can help ward off cancer and heart disease.
Now a new analysis of results from 50 different studies, published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, and reported in the Wall Street Journal, finds the diet can also prevent a pre-diabetic condition called metabolic syndrome. The results show that adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with smaller waistlines, lower blood pressure, and lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels—leading to a 31 percent reduction in the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, and thus a lower risk of diabetes. How can you enjoy the same benefits? By following these steps, as advised by the Mayo Clinic and webmd.com:
• Strive for 7-10 servings of fresh, seasonal fruits, and vegetables a day.
• Switch to whole-grain bread, cereals, and pasta.
• Swap out butter and margarine for olive and/or canola oil.
• Eat lean poultry and grilled or broiled fish at least twice a week, particularly varieties high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and trout.
• Limit your consumption of red meat to a few times a month. When you do serve red meat, make sure it’s lean and keep portions small (no bigger than a deck of cards). Avoid sausage and bacon.
• Eat low- or non-fat dairy products daily; cut out all full-fat or 2% milk, cheese, and yogurt.
• Avoid processed foods. Trade sugary desserts for fresh fruit and snack on nuts.
• Exercise regularly.
• If it’s OK with your doctor and you have no alcohol-related health issues, consider drinking a nightly glass of red wine, which is packed with antioxidants that can help prevent heart disease.