Eating a Mediterranean diet can reduce risks for arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease and stroke, according to Connie Crawley, a nutrition specialist with UGA Cooperative Extension.
“Because of the high amounts of vitamins and minerals and low amounts of saturated fat in the Mediterranean diet, studies have found that the diet may reduce risk for many chronic diseases,” she said.
The diet includes high consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, breads and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds. Olive oil is used as a healthy source of fat. The diet includes moderate amounts of dairy products, fish, poultry and red meat. Eggs are included in some diets.
A diet rich in nutrients may control inflammation and decrease symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, according to Crawley, who said that two studies have shown a connection between following a Mediterranean diet and a reduced risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
To follow a Mediterranean diet at home:
• Use olive oil and canola oil instead of butter when cooking.
• Replace one red-meat entrée a week with fish.
• Use whole-wheat bread.
• Switch to low-fat or non-fat dairy products.
• Fill half a dinner plate with vegetables.