There’s always a lot of talk about this way of eating, but what is the Mediterranean diet and what’s all the fuss about?
Both heart disease and stroke feature in the top 5 causes of premature death in the UK.
People living in Mediterranean countries eating a Mediterranean diet have significantly less heart disease and stroke compared with northern Europeans and Americans.
Basically people are living for longer and in better health because of their diet – a valid thing to make a fuss about!
What Is the Mediterranean Diet?
The main characteristic are diverse and whole food eating.
- Whole grains, i.e. NOT nutritionally defunct ‘food’ like refined white rice and refined white flours (and all made out of them)
- Pulses and legumes like lentils, split peas, beans, chickpeas
- Variety of fruit and veg
- Nuts and seeds
The diet has a relatively high fat content. This mostly comes in the form of monounsaturated fats in extra virgin olive oil.
Fish and poultry.
Dairy is included, but not so much milk. It’s mainly yogurt and cheese.
Low on the menu is red meat and especially low is processed meat – much less than in the UK, and loads less than the US.
Alcohol is drank in moderation, usually with meals and mostly red wine. UK style binge drinking doesn’t feature!
Mediterranean Diet vs Low Fat Diet
At great study was done in the early 2000’s – PREDIMED. (1)
Around 7,500 volunteers in Spain signed up. They were in their 60s and deemed high risk of heart diseases.
They were split randomly into groups.
Group one – put on a low fat diet which is likely to be advocated in a surgery near you if you have any form of cardiovascular disease.
Group two were steered back to a more traditional Mediterranean diet, and this group was subdivided:
- One group were advised to eats extra nuts
- The other group were advised to have extra virgin olive oil (in addition to what they had normally)
This study wasn’t specifically looking at the effects of diet on weight, but only one group gained weight – the low fat group.
This study was planned to last for 10 years, but is was stopped early because if was so obvious that the low fat group were being harmed.
Compared with the low fat group, both groups with the ‘high fat’ diets has 30% less:
- Heart attacks
- Memory loss
- Breast cancer
- Their blood pressure reduced too
Clearly a knockout for a high natural fat diet which is diverse in real food compared with the damaging low fat eating still so commonly advocated.
What is the Mediterranean diet? It’s a pretty good way of looking after yourself!
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Have a great week!
(1) Estuch, R., New Eng J Med 2013. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet