The Mediterranean diet has been in the spotlight recently as a healthy dietary choice for those predisposed to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. This is for a very good reason. This diet consisting of high levels of fish, vegetables, olives and olive oil and red wine is consistently showing great results in decreasing inflammation in patients with these conditions. Inflammation greatly affects endothelial function, damages blood vessels and makes it far more easier for clots to form.
You don't have to be predisposed to, or experiencing these conditions to enjoy the benefits of this anti-inflammatory diet. So.. what is it about eating a la Mediterranean that makes it so good for us?
- Lots of fresh leafy greens, high in Vitamin K, such as spinach, cabbage, kale and silverbeet, kelp, broccoli. Vitamin K helps our blood clot, but is also involved in decreasing inflammation that interferes with healthy glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Science nerds get your fix here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23298335 Vitamin K is fat soluble so eat your leafy greens with extra virgin cold pressed olive oil.
- An obvious one to follow on. Just 30ml of extra virgin, cold pressed, olive oil a day (a few tablespoons) is enough to decrease white blood cells that cause inflammation and improve endothelial function. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22872323
- Red wine - we love that this one is here right! Full of flavanoids and quercetin, it improves blood vessel function and is highly anti-oxidant. One glass a day is enough (think quality over quantity ;))
- Fish. Fresh fish is the best of course, the smaller and oilier the better. If the smell and sight of anchovies/sardines/mackerel turns your stomach inside out you can try alacore tuna (pole caught), wild-caught salmon (farmed is ok but from a well-reputed company), rainbow trout (farmed unless wild-caught in uncontaminated waters). We know fish is high in omega-3 - a very healthy oil that decreases risk of inflammation that damages blood vessels.
On most days, try to focus on getting these things in your diet: fresh fish, fresh extra virgin cold pressed olive oil, olives, fresh leafy greens (or lightly steamed), nuts and seeds, a glass of beautiful red wine and use all of those wonderful herbs to flavour such as thyme, basil, rosemary and oregano. YUM! Go to this website for some beautiful recipes http://www.foodnetwork.com/healthy/packages/healthy-mediterranean.html
Happy eating and stay healthy!