Guys, Five Surprising Ways the Mediterranean Diet Can Benefit Your Body
The Mediterranean diet is marked by its primary use of plant-based foods and spices with lean proteins like fish or chicken added to the mix sparingly. The diet is rich in high-fiber foods and healthy fats, and red wine is given the “thumbs up,” while red meats, butter and added sugar are big no-nos.
For decades now, the Mediterranean diet has been touted as the gold standard diet to ward off extra pounds and disease, but the coastal diet has a few lesser-known men’s health benefits, as well.
Risk of Colon Cancer Drops
According to the American Cancer Society®, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in American men and the second leading cause of death.
Although there are many factors, diet has a big impact on your odds of developing colorectal cancer. According to research conducted by the European Society for Medical Oncology, after surveying 800 people, the researchers found that those who had advanced colon polyps reported eating fewer components of the Mediterranean diet than those with clear colonoscopies. Colon polyps are dangerous because they are precursors to developing colorectal cancer.
Including at least 90 grams of whole grains a day can help slash your colon cancer risk by 17 percent, due to the high fiber content. Keeping your fiber intake high is important, since regular bowel movements have been shown to minimize your chances of developing cancer-causing mutations in your digestive tract.
Remember that diet is not a substitute for screening. Regular colonoscopies are the best way to detect cancer early and potentially save your life.
Ward Off or Reverse Erectile Dysfunction
That’s right, the Mediterranean diet can help keep erectile dysfunction (ED) at bay and it all starts with your heart. Heart disease is a common cause of ED because once plaque starts to form and build up in your blood vessels, blood flow is decreased and even blocked in some vessels.
Research from a study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research suggests that eating a Mediterranean diet can work to reduce inflammation in the body, increasing blood flow. After two years on the diet, one-third of the men in the study with ED regained normal sexual functioning.
A colorful diet, like the foods in the Mediterranean diet, is not only pleasing to the eye but can also be beneficial for your eye health. The American Academy™ of Ophthalmology reports that Mediterranean diet staples like dark leafy greens, oranges, peppers and sweet potatoes are eye health superfoods due to their high antioxidant levels.
A study in the Journal of American Medical Association Ophthalmology also states that people who eat just one serving of fish a week have a 31 percent lower risk of developing age-related macular degeneration at an early age. In addition, adding one or two servings of nuts per week is also associated with a 35 percent lower risk. Both are due to the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in those foods, which have been shown to protect your retinas from cell damage.
Your Kidneys Function More Efficiently
Your kidneys are some of the hardest-working organs in your body, so keeping them running efficiently is vital.
Unfortunately, chronic kidney disease affects more than 30 million Americans, which can cause high blood pressure, bone or heart disease, sexual dysfunction, and kidney failure. But the Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease by 50 percent. Researchers believe it is due to the diet’s anti-inflammatory benefits since, inflammation is a big contributor to chronic kidney disease.
A Memory That Stands the Test of Time
Researchers in Australia looked at 18 different studies examining the Mediterranean diet’s impact on cognitive function, and they found that people who stuck with the diet experienced slower rates of age-related cognitive decline and decreased their risk of Alzheimer’s disease. To add to that, the diet was also associated with better memory and attention.
How to Live Mediterranean
Need some help kick-starting your Mediterranean diet? Try these five steps to incorporate more of the coastal diet’s essentials into your daily routine:
- Add a handful of nuts as a healthy snack. Try almonds, walnuts or pistachios which are packed with protein, fiber and omega-3s, but fewer saturated fats.
- Swap out your cooking oil with healthier alternatives like soybean, olive or canola. Adding these oils to your salad instead of creamy dressings can be a simple and easy way to get in some healthy fats.
- Eat three to six ounces of fatty fish, like salmon or cod, up to three times a week.
- Increase your vegetable intake to at least two servings a day. Adding a drizzle of healthy oil can help you increase your healthy fat intake from tip #2 while also increasing your vegetable intake.
- Meet with a Texas Health nutritionist or dietitian to help you start your diet appropriately, make sure you’re getting a varied, healthy mix in your diet, and help you stay on track.