Mushrooms are a Dream Mediterranean Diet Match

Hundreds of health and recipe books have been written about the Mediterranean diet, and we would wager that mushrooms are mentioned in every single one.

That’s because they are a fantastic food, ticking the box for health, flavour, cost and availability. They are, in fact, a good addition to all eating plans that focus on health, but especially the much-lauded Mediterranean diet, which promotes heart, bone and joint health, while being completely diabetic-supportive.

The Mediterranean diet has been ranked the best overall diet in the world by US News & World Report for seven years straight. It’s an annual list that’s taken very seriously by medical and nutrition professionals worldwide.

The optimum health version of the Mediterranean diet focuses on eating a variety of produce, prioritising fungi, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils, nuts, pure olive oil, herbs, garlic and other naturally growing aromatics, all consumed daily. Poultry, fish, eggs, cheese and yoghurt can be eaten in low to moderate amounts, while all red meats, desserts and sweets are only to be eaten very occasionally.

Mediterranean diet flavours and meals are often French and Italian, or Greek, Croatian, Moroccan or from any country around that sea. It’s more about keeping the focus on vegetables, mushrooms and grains for mains and fruit for dessert. Simple, but your body will thrive on it!

The science says so too. “Research has consistently shown that the Mediterranean diet is effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and overall mortality,” notes the Harvard School of Public Health website.

It goes on to explain: “There has also been increased interest in the diet’s effects on ageing and cognitive function. Cell damage through stress and inflammation that can lead to age-related diseases has been linked to a specific part of DNA called telomeres. These structures naturally shorten with age, and their length size can predict life expectancy and the risk of developing age-related diseases. Telomeres with long lengths are considered protective against chronic diseases and earlier death, whereas short lengths increase risk. Antioxidants can help combat cell stress and preserve telomere length, such as by eating foods that contain antioxidants nutrients like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. These foods are found in healthy eating patterns like the Mediterranean diet.”

The variety encouraged by the Mediterranean diet doesn’t just prevent disease, it promotes a longer and better quality of life too!

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In addition, “the Mediterranean diet may benefit brain health and prevent cognitive decline as you get older,” states the peer-reviewed website Healthline. A 2021 German-funded study “found a possible link between following a Mediterranean diet, improved memory, and reductions in several risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease;” while a larger Irish study in 2017 “linked the Mediterranean diet to improvements in cognitive function, memory, attention, and processing speed in healthy older adults.”

So why do mushrooms make the Mediterranean cut?

  • Mushrooms are their own unique food category, fungi, but they eat like vegetables and offer most of the same health benefits.
  • Mushrooms are highly nutritious and deliver an array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with every bite.
  • Mushrooms contain protein and fibre while being low in sodium and cholesterol.
  • Mushrooms are economical and available in the chiller section of most supermarkets.
  • Mushrooms work well with many other Mediterranean staples, from tomatoes and courgettes to pasta and seafood.
  • Mushrooms are great substitutes for meat! Since meat is eaten only seldom on the Mediterranean diet, mushrooms offer a wonderful umami-rich alternative.

From diabetic-friendly Roasted Hake on Tomato & Mushroom Lentils to superfood salads like Roasted Mushroom Niçoise, you’ll find a multitude of Mediterranean mushroom meals to suit your palate on the SAMFA website.

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