The traditional Mediterranean diet is often lauded for its health benefits. But did you know that this way of eating can also be good for the planet?
A ‘green’ version of the Mediterranean diet—one that includes plenty of plant-based foods and fewer animal products—can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions while still providing all the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet.
So, what exactly is a green Mediterranean diet? Essentially, it is a more plant-based version of the traditional Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to protect against heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases. The green version of this diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts.
The Health Benefits of a Green Mediterranean Diet
The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are well-established. This way of eating has been linked with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and other chronic conditions.
Researchers found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of dying from any cause over 12 years compared to those who didn’t follow this diet.
New studies suggest that a green version of the Mediterranean diet may offer even more health benefits, including cardiovascular health, gut health and protection from brain atrophy. The green Mediterranean version includes more vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes while focusing less on meat and dairy.
The health benefits of a green Mediterranean diet are supposedly linked to the high intake of polyphenols. These plant-based compounds have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and have been linked with a lower risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.
In addition, following a green Mediterranean diet may also be good for the planet. Sustainable seafood options, for example, help preserve ocean resources, and eating locally grown produce reduces your carbon footprint.
Foods in a Green Mediterranean Diet
If you’re interested in trying a green Mediterranean diet, there are many delicious recipes to choose from. Start by incorporating more plant-based foods into your meals, such as plant-based foods rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and olive oil. The diet also includes nuts such as almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts.
Some of the best foods to incorporate into this diet are:
- Fruits: apples, oranges, pears, peaches;
- Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower;
- Grains: brown rice;
- Nuts: almonds;
- Oils: olive oil.
Environmental Impact of a Green Mediterranean Diet
A growing body of research shows that what we eat can significantly impact climate change.
The traditional Mediterranean diet is already considered environmentally friendly because it includes lots of locally grown fruits and vegetables and relies on olive oil as its primary source of fat. However, we could make this way of eating even more sustainable by including more plant-based foods and fewer animal-based products.
A green Mediterranean diet, in particular, is beneficial for both human health and the environment. There are several reasons why the Mediterranean diet is so beneficial for the environment. First, the diet is based on whole, unprocessed foods, typically grown locally, which reduces the need for long-distance transportation and greenhouse gas emissions. Second, the diet emphasizes plant-based foods with a lower carbon footprint than animal-based foods.
A Mediterranean diet is also relatively low in meat consumption compared to the standard western diet. This has a lower impact on the environment because meat production requires more resources than plants, and raising animals for food emits greenhouse gasses.
A Parting Reminder
The climate crisis is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and it’s essential to find ways to reduce our impact on the planet. One way to do this is by changing our diets. So, if you’re looking to improve your health and do your part for the planet, a green Mediterranean diet is a perfect place to start!