The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been cited over and over again. Hailing from the traditional dietary patterns of residents along the Mediterranean coast, the main staples of the diet include nuts, whole grains, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, unrefined cereals, lots of legumes, just as much fish, some cheese and yogurt and occasional consumption of wine. The cornerstone of this diet is its limit in the consumption of red meat to only a few times a month.
Individually, most of the elements of the Mediterranean diet are heart-healthy. The diet as a whole has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of cardiovascular mortality, the incidence of cancer mortality and may reduce the incidence of neurologic diseases like dementia and Parkinson’s. For this reason, the Mediterranean diet is championed by most, if not all major scientific institutions, not only as a diet, but a lifestyle change to prevent major life-shortening chronic diseases.
Why Follow Mediterranean Diet?
Now there is one more reason to follow this diet plan, and that’s environmental impact. A recent study established that the menu traditionally eaten in Spain has less of a carbon footprint than that of English speaking countries like the United States or the United Kingdom. A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide (or equivalent pollutant gas) contributing to global warming.
This Spanish study analyzed the carbon footprint of typical menus in Spain, following a Mediterranean diet, and compared them to daily fare consumed in the UK and the US. What researchers found was that the Spanish Mediterranean diet had a smaller carbon footprint than English speaking countries due to lower beef consumption. Beef, it has been found, has a relatively larger carbon footprint than fruits and vegetables which make up much of the Mediterranean diet. So not only is eating like a Mediterranean native more healthy, but also more environmentally friendly.