We were not at all surprised when we recently read that Spain will overtake Japan when it comes to longevity with Spaniards having an average lifespan of 85.8 years by 2040.
No matter where you are in the western world if you ask someone if they have heard about the Mediterranean diet they will probably say yes! Then ask them what it consists of most will stumble after coming up with olive oil and fish.
Diet is probably the wrong word to combine with Mediterranean as it is the with lifestyle along with the food that helps people live longer.
Here are our top 10 tips on how to eat like a Spaniard
Fruit & Nuts
Eat fresh fruit with the seasons! Try and eat fruit at least three times per day. Processed fruits don’t count, so avoid anything that comes in a tin or has been cooked as it is likely to contain too much sugar.
Nuts are really good for you, but don’t overdo it! Eating handful of almonds 3 to 7 times per week is very good for you as almonds contain vitamin E, copper, magnesium, and high-quality protein; they also contain high levels of healthy unsaturated fatty acids along with high levels of bioactive molecules (such as fibre, phytosterols, vitamins, other minerals, and antioxidants.
Cereal & Legumes
Eat whole grain cereals every day and legumes such as chickpeas and lentils 2 to 4 times a week.
Try and eat vegetables twice a day and make sure one of these times the vegetables are raw as cooking takes away many of the nutrients. When we say raw we don’t mean things like carrots and celery but salads. If you need to put a dressing on the salad only use vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
Always use olive oil when you cook and ditch the butter. If you can’t live without butter use an alternative such as margarine made with plant or olive oil. The American College of Cardiology says that replacing saturated fats (found in butter) with unsaturated fats (found in vegetable oils and margarine) significantly reduces the risk of heart disease.
Eat more fish! Try and cut down on meals that contain meat and replace them with fish. If you cannot cut down on meat stick to white meats like chicken and turkey.
Eggs provide all the protein and nutrients you need to have in a healthy diet, so saying that eats eggs three times a week.
Avoid sugary drinks altogether and drink as much mineral water as you like. Doctors recommend you drink at least 2 litres of water per day.
Avoid all processed meats like bacon, salami and hot dogs as these contain additives that have been linked to cancer. Instead, eat dry-cured Spanish Jamón as it is rich in iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, vitamins B1, B2 and niacin. The fat in Spanish ham is made up of oleic acid (the ‘good´ fat found in olive oil).
Spain is one of the world’s top wine producers making wine readily available and not expensive. When we say wine, we mean of course red wine, as not only is it heart healthy it can relax you and help you to unwind.
Doctors recommend not more than one glass a day for a woman and two for men.
Eat with friends and family
While the food in Spain is good, the most important thing is to eat with friends and family and to take your time to enjoy it!
To improve your life and live longer, you need to eliminate stress, leave your car behind and walk or cycle to where you need to go. Also just like the Spanish take a siesta! Once you get used to it you will be surprised how much better you feel.