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Health: 3 benefits you can avail of by following a Mediterranean diet

Did you know that adhereing to a Mediterranean diet can lengthen your lifespan considerably? Researchers and experts list other benefits...

Key to longer life: Want to live 15 years longer? New research suggests that eating a Mediterranean diet along with regular exercise, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight could add 15 years to a woman's life, or 8.5 years to a man's.

Health: The many benefits of a Mediterranean diet
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The study, which was published in a leading American medical journal, found that these four healthy lifestyle factors significantly cut the risk of premature death, especially in women. To add years to your life, the researchers recommend adhering to a Mediterranean diet, stopping smoking, exercising at least 30 minutes a day, and maintaining a body mass index between 18.5 and 25. 

Higher fertility: Spanish researchers recently discovered that women hoping to get pregnant might want to consider switching to a Mediterranean-style diet. In a study of nearly 500 women, those who ate a diet high in fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains enjoyed increased fertility. About 17 percent of those who rigorously stuck to the Mediterranean diet reported problems becoming pregnant, while 26 percent of the women who loosely followed the diet said they had fertility problems.

The study also examined women who ate diets that included greater amounts of red meat, fast food, whole-fat dairy products, potatoes, refined grains and sugar-sweetened soda, but found no connection between this diet and increased or decreased fertility.

Additionally, researchers at an Australian University found that men interested in boosting fertility, a recent study found that men who consume antioxidant-rich foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and mangos have healthier sperm, which can help their baby-making abilities.

Cuts Alzheimer's risk by half: A hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets may help lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) by as much as 53 percent, reveal researchers from a leading American university. The diet, which has been labeled MIND - Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay has 15 dietary components, including 10 "brain-healthy food groups" -- green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine -- and five unhealthy groups that comprise red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

With the MIND diet, a person must limit intake of the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than one tablespoon a day), cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three), to have a real shot at avoiding the devastating effects of AD, according to the study. Berries are also included in the MIND diet. In the latest study, the MIND diet was compared with the two other diets.

People with high adherence to the DASH and Mediterranean diets also had reductions in AD but got negligible benefits from moderate adherence to either of the two other diets. The MIND diet lowered the risk of AD by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well.

A notable US-based clinic recommends the following guidelines while following a Mediterranean diet:
1. Get plenty of exercise
2. Eat primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts
3. Replace butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
4. Use herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
5. Limit red meat to no more than a few times a month
6. Eat fish and poultry at least twice a week
7. Drink red wine in moderation (optional)

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