The Mediterranean diet continues to be ranked the best overall diet year after year, and it’s easy to understand why. For starters, it comes with plenty of research backing up why it’s such a healthy way to eat. When compared to popular eating styles (including low-carb and keto diets), the Mediterranean diet proves far superior when it comes to nutrient density, reduced all-cause mortality, and longevity. However, to understand why this eating style is so effective at promoting health and longevity, we have to look at the bigger picture — the Mediterranean lifestyle!
By simply talking about dietary benefits, we would be doing this way of living a disservice. Other lifestyle habits practiced in this region (including social connection, physical activity, and mindset) play an equally important role in contributing to healthy aging and overall well-being. In fact, according to a recent study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, following a Mediterranean lifestyle was associated with lower all-cause mortality and cancer mortality.
Wondering what this lifestyle is all about? Ahead, learn about 9 Mediterranean lifestyle habits that go hand in hand with diet to boost your health and quality of life.
The Mediterranean Mindset: Important Factors to Support Longevity
Before we break down the habits, it’s important to understand the theory behind this way of living. A recent Harvard study on the Mediterranean lifestyle found that physical activity, rest, social habits, and conviviality were most strongly associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease as well as disease mortality.
The below Mediterranean lifestyle habits take these important categories into account.
9 Mediterranean Lifestyle Habits to Support Wellbeing
#1 Active Living
With a sedentary lifestyle being a primary risk factor for premature mortality and chronic disease, physical activity is a cornerstone of the Mediterranean lifestyle. Whether it’s walking, cycling, swimming, or participating in local sports, staying active is essential for maintaining a healthy body and mind.
What’s more? The Mediterranean diet and exercise seem to have a mutually beneficial relationship! By simply following the Mediterranean diet, new research suggests you could achieve the same benefits as walking an extra 4,000 steps a day. While at the same time, by eating according to this diet plan, you’re more likely to adhere and respond to an exercise plan!
#2 Emphasis on Family and Social Connections
Mediterranean cultures prioritize spending time with family and friends. Meals are eaten with friends and family, with some shops even shutting down mid-day to allow time for social connection during lunch. Strong social connections are associated with increased happiness and better mental health, ultimately leading to increased longevity and a more fulfilling life.
#3 Eating Mindfully
The Mediterranean way of eating is not just about what you eat, but also how you eat. According to a local, who grew up on the Mediterranean Diet, this could include using smaller plates to reduce portion sizes, or opting for healthier cooking methods such as baking vs. frying. Meals are savored and enjoyed slowly, allowing for mindful eating and better digestion.
#4 Work-Life Balance
Mediterranean cultures value a balanced life, ensuring that work does not consume all their time and energy. Taking time for oneself and nurturing personal interests helps reduce stress and enhance overall well-being.
#5 Generous Use of Olive Oil
Shown to reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote longevity, Olive oil is a staple in the Mediterranean diet, offering numerous health benefits. While it’s well known for its high content of healthy monounsaturated fats, new research suggests its rich levels of polyphenol antioxidants may be the nutrient responsible for its impressive health benefits. With regular daily consumption of at least three weeks, EVOO was found to support weight loss, improve HDL, lower LDL and blood pressure, and regulate glucose. It is also used for skin and hair care, contributing to a healthy glow.
#6 Regular Siestas & Adequate Rest
In many Mediterranean countries, afternoon naps or “siestas” — especially after a mid-day meal — are a common practice. Siestas provide an opportunity for rest and rejuvenation, which can help reduce stress and improve cognitive function. In fact, according to the new data published by Harvard researchers, adequate rest — along with physical activity and social habits — is among the lifestyle factors that have the strongest influence on promoting longevity and reducing health risks, particularly cardiovascular disease.
#7 Seasonal and Local Foods
Considering veggies, healthy fats, and various lean proteins are staples in the Mediterranean diet, it’s understandable that a Mediterranean lifestyle emphasizes fresh, locally sourced, and seasonal produce. Eating in this way not only supports local farmers and economies (further emphasizing the importance of community) but also ensures that you consume nutrient-rich foods at their peak and reduce your carbon footprint.
#8 Embracing Nature
Mediterranean cultures have a deep connection to the natural world. Spending time outdoors and engaging with nature contributes to improved mental health, reduced stress, and a greater appreciation for the environment.
#9 Focus on Happiness and Mental Wellbeing
The Mediterranean lifestyle highlights the importance of mental health and overall happiness. Engaging in activities that bring joy, fostering positive relationships, and maintaining a positive outlook on life are key aspects of this lifestyle.
The Mediterranean Lifestyle For Enhanced Health and Longevity
The Mediterranean lifestyle is more than just a healthy diet; it’s a holistic approach to living that encompasses various habits, all working together to create a balanced and fulfilling life. By incorporating these 9 Mediterranean habits into your daily routine, you can unlock the secret to a healthier, happier life.