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Training for my first marathon led to runners’ highs and a few lows as I pushed my average unfit body to its physical — and mental — limits.

6 Surprising Ways the Mediterranean Diet Benefits Your Body

You know it’s great for your heart—but your favorite Mediterranean staples do wonders for other parts of your body, too.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018, 8:31 am
The Mediterranean diet gets hyped for a reason. The traditional Italian, Greek, or Spanish way of eating can help you lose weight, slash your cancer risk, and offers your whole body a slew of health perks.Mediterranean meals—which range even farther to France, Croatia, and Turkey—are mainly composed of plant-based foods, with the occasional addition of lean proteins like fish and chicken, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Other options include foods high in fiber, like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Healthy fats, like the kind you find in olive oil and nuts, are also a staple. If you drink, red wine will be your libation of choice, while red meats, butter, and added sugar are typically limited.(Looking for nutritious meals to fuel your run? Try the Runner’s World Cookbook.)

Overall, it’s one of the healthiest ways to eat, because you’re primarily consuming foods in their whole form, explains Carolyn Brown, M.S., R.D., a nutrition counselor at Foodtrainers in New York City.

In general, Americans tend to eat fewer fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats, while loading up on more processed carbs and sugar. The result? A higher risk of obesity, heart problems, and diabetes, says Brown.

But eating an abundance of Mediterranean staples? That can do your body good. Read on to find out how.