Mounting international research is putting weight behind the Mediterranean diet - a style of eating that encourages a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and meats with a few of life's guilty pleasures thrown in (hello, soft cheese and red wine).

11 quick tips for mastering the Mediterranean diet:

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Based on much research, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to help support cardiovascular health and may even help to protect against Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Here's why you should start eating like an Italian:

1. It's good for the heart

Researchers at McMaster University have found links between good heart health and the Mediterranean diet's ingredients, including vegetables, nuts and monounsaturated fatty acids, and its overall 'healthy' dietary patterns.

2. Antioxidant power

The Mediterranean diet is rich in antioxidants, which are a key component of many plant foods like olives. Antioxidants help slow down the process of oxidation and help to decrease the amount of free radicals that have been shown to cause damage to your cells. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found people who followed a traditional Mediterranean diet had an 11 per cent higher antioxidant capacity than those who didn't adhere to a traditional diet. Try the antioxidant-rich Comvita Fresh-Picked Olive Leaf Extract.

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3. Cholesterol control
In a major international study, the Mediterranean diet showed a reduction in oxidised LDL cholesterol, along with improvements in several other heart disease risk factors. The PREDIMED study found people who were at a high cardiovascular risk had lower oxidative stress markers and lower levels of oxidised LDL (bad cholesterol) than those on a traditional low-fat diet. 

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4. Weight control
A meta-analysis study, published in the Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders Journal, found this type of diet may be useful for helping people to lose weight. The nutrients from fresh fruit and vegetables combined with healthy natural oils help to lower bad cholesterol and support optimal cardiovascular health. Many scientific studies also suggest that following the Mediterranean diet promotes brain function and memory retention due to the higher intake of Omega-3 fatty acids.

5. It's anti-inflammatory
A study published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention found the Mediterranean diet is associated with the reduction of inflammation due to its high ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids and high amounts of fibre, antioxidants and polyphenols found in olives, fruit, vegetables and wine.

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