Already proven to be a heart-healthy diet, the Mediterranean diet was recently linked to higher bone density and muscle mass in older women. Here's what you need to know about the Mediterranean diet plan, as well as our favorite Mediterranean diet recipes to try this week.
There’s been no shortage of praise for the Mediterranean diet, which is centered on whole, plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Earlier this year, the U.S. News & World Report ranked it #1 (tied with the DASH diet) for 2018's Best Diet. Long-term studies have suggested adhering to the diet could improve cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. In January, a study led by the University College London found that following a Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of frailty in older adults.
Most recently, a study presented Monday, March 18, at ENDO 2018, the Endocrine’s Society 100th annual meeting in Chicago, confirmed UCL’s findings, suggesting that the Mediterranean diet is good for an older woman’s bones and muscles.
One hundred and three women from southern Brazil, who had an average age of 55 and had gone through menopause 5 1/2 years earlier, participated in the study. They each completed a food questionnaire regarding their eating habits the prior month, and underwent bone scans. The women with a higher Mediterranean diet score (based on how closely they adhered to the diet) were found to have a higher bone mineral density.
“We found that the Mediterranean diet could be a useful nonmedical strategy for the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures in postmenopausal women,” Thais Rasia Silva, Ph.D., a postdoctoral student at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil and the study’s lead investigator, said in a statement.
In addition to a high intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, legumes, whole-grains, and olive oil, the diet involves a moderately high fish intake and low saturated fat, dairy, and red meat consumption. There is no counting calories or specific portion sizes. If you're looking to work the principles of the Mediterranean diet into your own daily eating habits, start with our favorite Mediterranean diet recipes below.
Chickpea Niçoise With Tahini Dressing
This flavorful salad checks all the boxes: healthy fats from olives and olive oil, legumes in the form of protein-packed chickpeas, and lots of fresh veggies such as green beans, romaine lettuce, and cucumber.
Get the Recipe: Chickpea Niçoise With Tahini Dressing
One-Pan Salmon With Roasted Cabbage and Olive Vinaigrette
Omega-3-rich salmon and vitamin-C packed cabbage combine for a fresh, flavorful dinner that comes together quickly: the basis for a great Mediterranean diet go-to.
Get the recipe: One Pan Salmon Roasted Cabbage
White Bean-and-Parmesan Soup
This satisfying soup is packed with staples of the Mediterranean diet: spinach, tomatoes, and lots of fresh herbs, as well as creamy cannellini beans. Toss in some farro for a whole-grain boost. Serve with whole-grain crusty bread and a glass of red wine, both of which are A-OK on the Mediterranean diet.
Get the recipe: White Bean-and-Parmesan Soup