There’s a reason why everyone from nutritionists to fitness trainers like Itsines swears by Mediterranean-style food.
Nutrition experts and doctors alike have been touting the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for years. Even celebs like Dancing with the Stars Season 7 winner Brooke Burke and actress Penélope Cruz are fans of the diet.
The latest star to talk about their love for Mediterannean-style food? Kayla Itsines. The Bikini Body Guides (BBG) creator recently shared a photo of a colorful, seriously delicious-looking platter of Mediterranean-inspired food, including olives, tomatoes, figs, grape leaves, and more.
“This is the kind of share dish my family usually eats around the holidays, except ours don’t always look as fancy haha,” Itsines wrote alongside the photo. “I love eating Mediterranean-style because it means you can try a little bit of every kind of food you like, which for me is usually everything!”
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Itsines is right, BTW. The Mediterranean diet doesn’t really have any hard-set “rules” to follow, said Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D. Since the diet essentially compiles the healthy eating patterns of people from different Mediterranean cultures, it includes a pretty wide range of yummy, good-for-you foods. The Mediterranean diet mainly encourages you to limit your intake of highly processed foods and include more plant-based foods, whole grains, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy, healthy fats, flavorful herbs and spices, and—perhaps best of all—red wine (in moderation, of course) in your day-to-day meals, explained Rizzo.
Aside from offering a wide range of foods, the Mediterranean diet can also benefit your overall health in a number of ways. For starters, it’s said to be great for your ticker: In one study, researchers followed more than 2,500 Greek adults over the course of a decade and found that those who adhered to the Mediterranean diet were 47 percent less likely to develop heart disease compared to similar adults who didn’t follow the diet. Even in the short-term, the Mediterranean diet could potentially benefit your heart health: One study showed that participants saw lower blood pressure readings after following the diet for just six months.
But the emphasis on whole foods isn’t just great for your heart; your brain can get a boost from these foods, too. A 2016 review of 18 articles, published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, found a link between eating plenty of whole foods and healthy fats, and improved cognitive function in people of all ages. The review’s findings also suggest that prioritising whole foods in your diet might help to slow the rate at which the brain declines, meaning the Mediterranean diet could potentially reduce the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Some studies have even shown that the Mediterranean diet might help to reduce the risk of certain cancers, including uterine, breast, colon, prostate, and kidney cancer.
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