What Makes Mediterranean Diet Healthy?

   |  Updated: February 04, 2015 12:49 IST

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What Makes Mediterranean Diet Healthy?
Olive oil is rapidly climbing up the health charts and has become popular as the wonder oil. It is the fat which is obtained from crushing olives, a fruit that is primarily grown in the Mediterranean region. With olive oil, you can cook your meals healthy, use it as a light salad dressing or just drizzle some over a boring dish to give it some depth. Slowly but steadily it is being embraced by the Indian taste buds not just for its distinct flavor but also for the numerous health benefits that it holds.

A recent study by King's College London, shows that regular consumption of olive oil with vegetables can help in lowering blood pressure. The findings were published in the journal PNAS. The research pointed out that the health benefits of consuming olive oil with vegetables may not be found when it is combined with other food groups.

"The findings explain why a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts can reduce the incidence of cardiovascular problems like stroke, heart failure and heart attacks. The protective effect of the Mediterranean diet comes at least in part from the nitro fatty acids generated which inhibit soluble Epoxide Hydrolase to lower blood pressure" explained professor Philip Eaton, King's College, London.

The Mediterranean diet typically includes unsaturated fats found in olive oil, nuts and avocados, along with vegetables like spinach, celery and carrots that are rich in nitrites and nitrates. When these two food groups are combined, the reaction of unsaturated fatty acids with nitrogen compounds in the vegetables resulted in the formation of nitro fatty acids. Nitro fatty acids help in lowering blood pressure. This is one of the reasons why those living in the Mediterranean regions have higher life expectancy and lesser cases of cardiovascular diseases. Olive oil is low in saturated fats and a good source of mono-unsaturated fats (MUFAs) which is healthy dietary fat. Mono-unsaturated fats and polyphenols also help in lowering bad cholesterol.

Inputs from IANS

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