THE Mediterranean diet has been shown in studies to be the best choice to prevent many chronic diseases, and one particular study has shown that complemented by an optimal calcium intake, this diet has proven efficacy in preventing osteoporosis and maintaining good bone health.
The 2021 study, The Mediterranean Diet in Osteoporosis Prevention: An Insight in a Peri- and Post-Menopausal Population, by Sara Quattrini et al and published online by Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, listed the importance of a Mediterranean diet for bone health.
This particular diet encourages the consumption of vegetables, fruits, nuts and fish, rather than red and processed meats, sweet beverages, and high-energy density food.
Nutritionist Keisha Black sang praises for this diet, especially for women who are susceptible to bone issues and osteoporosis as they age.
So what is the Mediterranean diet?
Touted as the world’s healthiest diet, it inherited its name from the traditional dietary and cooking style of countries bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Spain, Greece and Italy. The diet has reduced levels of bad cholesterol generally found in other diets. The diet is rich in most of the foods that we generally recommend that people eat because of the varying benefits, including being plant-based, very rich in fish and poultry, with very little red meat, and salts and butter are replaced by herbs and healthy fats such as olive oil. The diet is also rich in foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts.
Vegetables like tomatoes, broccoli, kale and spinach are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fibre, folate, vitamin A and vitamin C. A diet rich in vegetables will lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer and help control blood sugar.
Fruit choices like apples, bananas, oranges, melons and peaches are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables can reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease, cancer, inflammation and diabetes.
Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and butters like almond butter and peanut butter are high in fat, low in carbs, and a great source of several nutrients, including vitamin E, magnesium and selenium. Nuts and seeds regulate body weight and as their fats are not fully absorbed, they regulate food intake and help burn energy.
Beans, peas and lentils have a number of health benefits as sources of fibre and important vitamins and minerals. Eating more legumes as part of a healthy diet can help lower blood sugar, regulate blood pressure, and reduce your heart disease and diabetes risk.
Oats, brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta are naturally high in fibre, helping you feel full and satisfied. Whole grains are also linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and other health problems.
Fish and seafood
Salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crabs and mussels supply protein, nutrients and essential omega-3 fatty acids. These protect against cardiovascular disease and aid brain development.
Extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados and avocado oil give your body energy to support cell function. Fats help your body absorb some nutrients and produce important hormones.
Black said sticking to the Mediterranean diet will also lead to weight loss, and it can also help to prevent strokes, type two diabetes and helps control your blood sugar levels.
Here is how you can incorporate the Mediterranean diet into a daily routine:
Egg sandwich with multigrain bread, garnished with tomato and basil, and prepared using olive oil OR granola bowl using granola or oatmeal, topped with fresh fruits like bananas or berries.
A tuna sandwich using whole grain bread OR grilled chicken and quinoa served with a cucumber and tomato salad, garnished with parsley or basil.
Grilled fish or chicken served with vegetables OR grilled chicken or fish served with brown rice.
Fruit salad with Greek yoghurt
A mixture of nuts such as cashew, almond and walnuts along with dried fruits such as raisins, cranberries and blueberries.