As if the Mediterranean diet couldn’t get any better, it can now add another string to its bow. New research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital has found that healthy diets – such as the Mediterranean version – can be linked to a lower risk of hearing loss.
So what’s involved? “A Mediterranean diet consists of foods typically consumed in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea such as Greece, Italy, Spain, and France – but because so many countries and eating habits border the sea, a Mediterranean diet can have a few different definitions,” explains Dr Diana Gall of Doctor4U.
“In general, though, the diet is high in fruit, veg, fish, legumes, nuts, grains, and extra virgin olive oil. Red meat and dairy appear rarely, or at least in moderation, while added sugars and processed foods aren’t in the diet at all.”
One thing is clear about the Mediterranean diet; it has lots going for it. There are various studies which can speak to the benefits (like this one on its cardivascular perks), with Gall noting: “It reduces the risk of developing certain chronic illnesses such as Type-2 diabetes, and high cholesterol and blood pressure – all of which are risk factors for heart disease.”
It’s also been linked to reducing the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. “A healthy, balanced diet such as the Mediterranean diet with less fatty, processed foods can actually help against depression and anxiety, help stabilise blood sugar levels and help control your weight,” adds Gall.
What’s great about this ‘diet’ is it’s not a restrictive eating plan. Rather, it’s about choosing fresh, healthy foods over anything particularly processed. So what can this look like day-to-day? Here’s a 24-hour Mediterranean meal plan to get you started…
A classic go-to breakfast could be an omelette packed full of whatever veggies you fancy, taking only minutes for you to whip up in the morning. If you’re feeling more peckish than normal, have wholewheat toast with your eggs – bread isn’t off the menu, just try to stick to wholegrain versions. Or cook up a pan of shakshuka.
Lunch is the perfect time for a salad, but that definitely doesn’t mean a sad bowl of wilted greens. Instead, pile your plate high with spinach and kale, layering on avocado, olives, chickpeas and tomatoes, plus a sprinkling of your favourite nut, and an olive oil dressing.
Crunchy and delicious, it should keep you full until dinner – plus, you can customise it with whatever you fancy (and whatever you have in your fridge). And if you did find yourself hungry come four o’clock, have a snack of carrots and hummus.
“Healthy fats such as those found in fish are good for your brain,” explains Gall, so it’s no surprise fish is a big part of the Mediterranean diet.
For dinner, bake some salmon and roast up broccoli or asparagus in lemon and olive oil. If you’re feeling particularly fancy, whip up a quinoa salad as a side dish. Mediterranean countries are largely famous for their wine too, so the odd glass of red with dinner won’t go amiss.