You probably don’t need to be told that a Mediterranean diet is healthy for you but you might not have heard that a diet rich in fish, olive oil, nuts, fruit and vegetables is particularly good for women approaching middle age or in the midst of it.
Apparently, so says a recent study, women in their 50s who eat a Mediterranean-style diet are 40 per cent less likely to develop chronic diseases and memory problems than women who don’t eat so healthily. By chronic disease, they mean Parkinson’s, cancer and lung disease. Not only that, but women who eat well have also been found to have sharper memories and to be more active when they are in their 70s and 80s than their peers who prefer less healthy meals.
We’ve known for a while now that a Mediterranean-style diet is great for the heart and preventing strokes but the fact that it seems to stave off chronic disease, strengthen the memory and keep us physically fit and healthy is new.
So what exactly is a Mediterranean-style diet and how do you go about having one? We are talking really about an English variation of the kind of food women might eat in Spain and Italy. You won’t find Spaniards and Italians eating anywhere near as much processed food as we seem to consume here in the UK.
They are much more likely to cook fresh ingredients each night rather than rely on ready meals and frozen foods. So if you want to follow a more Mediterranean-style diet, the first thing to do is to cut out processed foods, ready meals, shop bought cakes, biscuits, pies and pastries.
Fortunately, once you have banned the biscuit barrel and resolved to cook meals from scratch a little more frequently, it isn’t that hard to make your diet more Mediterranean in style. Just replace butter and margarine in cooking with olive oil for a start. Cut back on red meat, try to eat more fish and increase your fruit and vegetable intake. Eat more nuts and fewer potatoes, and that’s it – a Mediterranean style diet and a longer, healthier life, hopefully.
More good news? Yes, there is some. A glass or two of wine a few times a week is actually better for your health than not drinking at all. Cheers!