The Health Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet.

**This is a synopsis of a study published in the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information). 

There is substantial evidence that a Mediterranean diet provides protective health benefits, including lower coronary heart disease and cancer risk.

A traditional Mediterranean diet is based on dietary patterns of regions in the Mediterranean (parts of Greece, Spain and southern Italy) during the early 1960’s, consisting of a primary source of fat from olive oil, and an array of fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, nuts, low-fat dairy products (feta cheese, other cheeses and yogurt) and “moderate” red wine consumption (more than 100-200 mL per day and usually during meals, according to the authors). The diet is high in monounsaturated fat, complex carbohydrates, fiber, beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, polyphenols, and important minerals.

“A study involving 22,043 adults from Greece (Trichopoulou et al 2003) found an inverse association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and death from coronary heart disease. In particular, approximately a 20% increment in the Mediterranean diet score (adherence to diet was assessed by a 9-point Mediterranean diet scale) was associated with a 33% reduction in coronary heart disease mortality. These associations were present irrespective of sex, smoking status, level of education, BMI, and physical activity. This is significant among participants 55 years of age or older, but not among younger participants. This age-specific association might reflect the effects of a cumulative exposure to a more healthy diet (ie, the Mediterranean diet).”

Dontas, A. S., Zerefos, N. S., Panagiotakos, D. B., & Valis, D. A. (2007). Mediterranean diet and prevention of coronary heart disease in the elderly. Clinical Interventions in Aging2(1), 109–115.

The authors offer the “dietary pattern” of the Mediterranean diet:

  • Daily consumption: non-refined cereals and products (whole grain bread, pasta, brown rice, etc), vegetables (2–3 servings/day), fruits (6 servings/day), olive oil (as the main added lipid) and dairy products (1–2 servings/day): 
  • Weekly consumption: fish (4–5 servings/week), poultry (3–4 servings/week), olives, pulses, and nuts (3 servings/week), potatoes, eggs, and sweets (3–4 servings/week):
  • Monthly consumption: red meat and meat products (4–5 servings/month).

According to the staff at Mayo Clinic, the Mediterranean diet is associate with lower levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol that cause deposit build up in arteries). The diet has shown a reduction in cancer (for women, reduced risk of breast cancer), Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

Read the full study here.
Read more about the Mediterranean diet here.
For recipes, click here.

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