It’s widely known that following a Mediterranean diet is a healthy way to live.
Based on the traditional cuisines of Greece, Italy and other countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, it’s typically made up of lots of fruits and vegetables, fish, beans, grains, nuts and plant oils.
Studies have shown eating this way is linked with good heart health and may reduce the risk of developing conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Research has also suggested people who closely follow a Mediterranean diet may live longer and be less likely to put on weight.
It’s little wonder therefore that many of us strive to live a more Med-inspired lifestyle. But can a diet slow down the signs of ageing? The answer, accordingly to top international chef Susy Massetti, is yes.
Susy was born in Italy and her work has taken her around Europe, the USA and most recently the Middle East. She’s cooked for Hollywood film stars and royalty and was the personal chef to a former Prime Minister of Qatar as well as billionaire tycoons.
It’s little wonder that many of us strive to live a more Mediterranean-inspired lifestyle. But can a diet slow down the signs of ageing? The answer, accordingly to top international chef Susy Massetti (pictured) is yes
Susy owns and runs an organic sustainable farm where her dreams of locally sourced home-grown ingredients recently became a reality.
Ageing is caused by a number of degenerative factors where our cells suffer from slow oxidative damage, but by adapting a Mediterranean diet we can look and feel younger, according to Susy.
Speaking to FEMAIL, she explained: ‘What you put into your body is very important – the famous saying “you are what you eat” is said for a reason.
‘Being Italian I am a huge advocate of the Mediterranean lifestyle and the numerous health benefits of the typical Med diet. All dishes in my restaurants are based around rustic, honest and organic foods for this reason.
‘A diet rich in antioxidants, easily absorbable nutrients and healthy fats can have profound effects on our bodies, especially our largest organ, our skin.’
Here she reveals her top five anti-ageing foods and how they can help you turn back the clock.
Ageing is caused by a number of degenerative factors where our cells suffer from slow oxidative damage, but by adapting a Mediterranean diet we can look and feel younger, according to Susy
1. Cold compressed extra virgin olive oil to get your glow back
A high-grade olive oil is the most important oil you should cook with. Purchasing olive oil that comprises of compressed oils means you are consuming the closest to the food source by being extracted from the first pressing.
This means all of the high-quality nutrients; anti-inflammatory and potent antioxidant compounds are retained.
How it helps with ageing: The antioxidants in high quality olive oil help halt premature ageing by preventing free radical production and protects your cells from age related damage and will help you attain a naturally glowing skin.
The anti-inflammatory properties also help reduce unwanted puffiness. This is a very easy dietary switch to make with no effort at all.
The antioxidants in high quality olive oil help halt premature ageing by preventing free radical production and protects your cells from age related damage and will help you attain a naturally glowing skin
2. Collagen-boosting fish to stay youthful
A staple of any good quality Mediterranean diet is fish. From the age of 25 our collagen production starts to break down, causing saggy skin and wrinkles.
However, fatty omega-3 fish, such as sardines, contain collagen which can be extracted from the bones, fins and skin.
As well as a number of anti-inflammatory properties to keep our cells supple and strong, sardines also contain nutrients such as vitamin D that we can become depleted in as we age, as well as essential amino acids.
How it helps with ageing: Collagen can help slow the signs of ageing by reducing fine lines and helps plump up the skin by enhancing its elasticity.
Amino acids can also improve skin texture, helping to tighten and maintain a smooth appearance. My grandmother, who was also a chef, used to rave about sardines as a wonder food. If you’re in a rush, sardines on toast are quick and easy to make!
Fatty omega-3 fish, such as sardines, contain collagen which can be extracted from the bones, fins and skin
3. Reduce fine lines and wrinkles with sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are very popular in a Mediterranean diet. Eating more complex carbs can help balance blood sugar levels better than normal potatoes, which can give you a spike in blood sugar and insulin due to the way we process the food and how it passes through our body. Baked, fried or mashed, sweet potatoes are versatile.
How it helps with ageing: Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin C and vitamin A. Beta-carotene (which sweet potato is full of) gets converted into vitamin A, which can stimulate collagen production which, in turn, helps diminish the signs of wrinkles.
Vitamin A can also act as a blocker against free radicals that cause damage to our skin cells, and prevent breakouts and clogged pores.
Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin C and vitamin A. Beta-carotene (which sweet potato is full of) gets converted into vitamin A, which can stimulate collagen production which, in turn, helps diminish the signs of wrinkles
4. Refresh your eyes with spinach
Superfood leafy greens such as spinach are a great way to boost your skin rejuvenation. Packed with essential vitamins and minerals including iron, vitamin C and vitamin K, spinach can easily be incorporated into our daily diet.
Why not try a yummy omelette for breakfast, salad for lunch, or as a delicious side sautéed with garlic and seasoning one evening for dinner?
How it helps with ageing: Iron found in spinach helps transport oxygen through the body, helping to maintain healthy cells, skin, nails and hair.
Vitamin K in particular can help with the appearance of dark circles. Plus, 93 per cent of spinach is water and the added hydration will give you beautiful supple skin and softer lines.
Superfood leafy greens such as spinach are a great way to boost your skin rejuvenation
5. Zucchini for UV protection
Zucchinis – better known as courgettes in Britain – are so versatile and great to have in pastas and risotto.
The wonders of zucchinis never fail to amaze me. They are high in fibre and low in carbohydrate which means they will fill you up. They also contain lutein and zeaxanthin which are powerful antioxidants that in recent years have been considered beneficial to the skin.
Mediterranean-style grilled zucchini is also deliciously mouth-watering. Give it a try!
The antioxidant anti-inflammatory properties in courgettes help boost the skin’s protection from UV rays
How it helps with ageing: Their antioxidant anti-inflammatory properties help boost the skin’s protection from UV rays, improving skin tone and reducing dryness.
Chef Susy Massetti has travelled the globe and been at the helm of some of the finest 5-star restaurants.
After starting her career in Milan, she moved to Tuscany where she built up and sold her first restaurant.
This is when she travelled the globe and was the personal chef to a Spanish tycoon and was given the opportunity to widen her culinary expertise.
From 1995 to 2005 Chef Susy worked and lived in the USA where she opened and managed a number of stand-alone restaurants.
In 2011 she was headhunted to launch a restaurant in Bahrain called Masso, a fine dining contemporary Italian Cuisine restaurant.
She now runs her own restaurants in the Middle East including L’Orto, Bahrain and high-end cafe Eat’sy in Saudi Arabia. Click here to follow her on Instagram.