The benefits of the Mediterranean diet are endless: reducing the development of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Type-2 diabetes; lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol; and increasing cardiovascular health. However, the most prevalent benefit of the diet is its effect on breast cancer.

While there is no one thing that will prevent breast cancer, there are changes you can make to significantly lower your risk of developing the disease. Per the National Cancer Institute, 1 in 8 women in the United States have a chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. However, a healthy lifestyle, regular mammograms, a limited amount of alcohol and tobacco use, along with following a Mediterranean diet are all changes you can employ to lower your risk of diagnosis. In a study published by the International Journal of Cancer, post-menopausal estrogen-receptor-negative breast cancer was 40% less prevalent in women ages 55 to 69 who closely followed the Mediterranean diet.

Med Diet Pyramid

Key components of this diet are keeping with a mostly plant-based diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts), the use of olive oil, herbs and spices, and limiting red meat. Two other important aspects of this diet are daily exercise and enjoying your food with family and friends.

Unlike many other diets, the Mediterranean diet is not difficult to incorporate into your everyday lifestyle.

Here are 5 easy ways to start living like you are in the Mediterranean…

1Start by incorporating more plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts into your diet. Plant-based foods are the pillar of the Mediterranean diet and a fruit or vegetable is eaten at every meal. Even if you are just adding a cup of fruit to your yogurt in the morning, it makes a difference. There are so many benefits to increasing the amount of fruits and veggies in your daily diet.

2Limit your red meat intake to a couple times per month and increase your seafood and poultry intake to daily or multiple times per week. Seafood is especially beneficial because it is low in fats and cholesterol, and high in protein and Omega-3 fatty acids.

3This is one of the most beneficial aspects of the Mediterranean diet: replace butter with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. There is nothing that you cannot cook with EVOO that will not taste amazing. Because EVOO is high in antioxidants, it helps prevent cholesterol, fights diseases, and improves cardiovascular health. There are many other benefits that using EVOO can bring you. Another easy replacement is to use herbs and spices instead of salt to season your food. This will not only make your food taste 10x better, but also it will make your heart happy.

4Daily Exercise! Exercise does not always need to take hours, it can sometimes just be 30-minutes of yoga. It is always better to get in a light workout than no exercise at all. As long as your skin is glistening, it is good with me.

5There are two parts to this step: slow down when you’re eating and to enjoy your meals with family and friends. When you eat your meal within a couple minutes, your brain does not acknowledge the amount you are eating. This leads to overeating, bloating, and eventual weight gain. When you give your brain time to process your food, you will realize how much less you need because you feel full.

With these simple steps and endless opportunities to improve your health, there is no reason to not love the Mediterranean diet!