People & Lifestyle: The Mediterranean recipe for health, beauty and happiness
Stay young at heart
If living healthier is one of your goals, an advantage of being on the Riviera is the fact that Mediterranean people have long been known for having a longer life expectancy and excellent overall health.
It is mainly attributed to a diet of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, but what really sets them apart is all the olive oil, fish and a daily glass of red wine with meals.
The antioxidant properties of olive oil help reduce blood pressure, improve circulation, boost 'good' cholesterol, reduce triglyceride levels and lower the formation of plaque build-up in artery walls - all factors which help to keep arteries clear. Now the focus is on the discovery of oleocanthal, a plant compound found in virgin olive oil, which possesses similar anti-inflammatory properties to ibuprofen but without the side effects.
The latest findings confirm its potential to protect against conditions where chronic inflammation is a critical factor: cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, degenerative joint and neurodegenerative diseases. Then for those who enjoy a full-bodied glass of red, the good news is that your favourite tipple contains resveratrol, a substance packed with powerful antioxidants.
Ever since its presence was discovered in red wine, scientists have been exploring the potential health benefits of this natural plant compound.
They have even speculated that it explains the 'French Paradox': that mortality from heart disease is quite low in France despite relatively high levels of saturated fat and cigarette smoking.
Since then resveratrol has continued to generate scientific interest primarily for its ability to inhibit cancer and extend life, but also for its protective role against age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. It also has potent anti-ageing effects as it protects against ultraviolet radiation and oxidative stress that result in skin damage.
Other sources of resveratrol are red grapes, nuts and berries, which are all locally produced fruits eaten here on a regular basis.
Oily fish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines and anchovies also form an integral part of the traditional Med diet. Not only an excellent source of low fat protein, they contain essential omega-3 fatty acids that help us stay trim by boosting metabolism and burning calories more efficiently.
Recently a study by the University of South Australia showed that the enzymes in omega-3 increase fat burning and reduce insulin levels, which results in more fat used as fuel, rather than being stored in the body.
So stay fit and healthy with the Riviera lifestyle - eat oily fish, use olive oil liberally and enjoy red wine wisely. What a chore!